Saturday, May 9, 2015

JAGs Birthday Bash

My 49th birthday is June 15, 2015. Forty-nine is a big year for me because it completes the seventh cycle of seven years.  Every seven years I undergo a major shift in personality and perspective.  It isn't usually an instantaneous thing, but something that happens over a several-year period. The most recent change could be felt beginning in February of 2014 during my First Degree Black Belt training and continued throughout most of the year. And I feel like I'm still adjusting to the new me; I can't wait to see what I become this time.

In the meantime, to celebrate this event, I'm inviting all of my Nia family to come and party with me. I have reserved the Century Ballroom on June 13 from noon to 4pm.

At noon I plan to teach my latest routine, Frankie Say Nia.  I have taught it plenty of times in Seattle, but that was before I took it on the road. When I take it around from place to place, I get a chance to refine and improve it at every stop, based on how the students respond to it. So it is now at a place that I feel very proud of, whereas when I had taught it in Seattle in the past, I was still feeling my way through it.

After that, at one pm, I want to play around with a song for inclusion into my 2016 routine. The working title of the routine is Community Network Synergy. The idea is that I am calling on the creative energy of my friends and colleagues to co-create all of the choreography this year. So far, I have worked with six different communities (Santa Monica, Santa Fe, Sedona, Kansas City, Dallas/Houston and Boise) and we have put together six songs. I'm halfway done with the routine. I want to include Seattle in the mix and I have chosen a song that I'd love to work with, but I'm also open to hearing other suggestions. I would like the song to be something that 'speaks to' the community or that represents the community in some way. It could be from a local artist, or a song about the city, etc. This is not a hard and fast rule, but simply a suggestion to help in coming up with song choices.

Then, when the song is chosen, what I'll do is share the method I use when I create choreography for my routines. But instead of using my creative energy, I want to use the creative energy of the teachers and students in attendance.  I will orchestrate it so that we use my method of creation, but I will be plugging in movement 'clicks' and inspirations entirely from my colleagues.

So far this has been an incredibly rewarding experience as I am inspired to use movements and songs I never would have thought of. I'm thrilled at how this routine is going to get me outside of myself and forge a new path for me in my creativity.

Here is the song I am considering for using in Seattle.  As I said, I'm open to other suggestions.

In my experience, it takes about 2 hours to fully realize the choreography to a song using the group method. And then, with the last hour, from 3 to 4 pm, I will teach a song or two from Frankie Say Nia so that the teachers in attendance will be able to teach them in their classes.

In the future, I may put together an entire playshop for learning the routine, but for now, this is the only means for learning the songs from me.

So what is the cost, you ask?  Nothing. It is my birthday, so it is my pleasure to present this to my community. I will be putting out the donation bowl in case anyone would like to contribute to the JAG & River Road Fund. Every little bit helps as we trek across the country. Staying in motels and filling up the gas tank every day can get a bit expensive.

So come and play with me on my birthday. Enjoy some Frankie Say Nia "80s New Wave" Nia and help to co-create next year's routine.

EVENT: 'Frankie Say Nia' routine and Choreography Creation Playshop

DATE:  Saturday, June 13

TIME: Noon - 4pm

LOCATION: Century Ballroom; 915 E Pine St.; Seattle WA

COST: FREE!  (donations gladly accepted)

WHO: Anyone is welcome; teachers, belts and students alike!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Western Road Trip through the eyes of Nia

I started this trip the next day after a Wisdom Comes Dancing playshop with Phillipe and Sabine.
It was a beautiful send-off to a long and eventful Nia adventure.

I taught my latest routine, Frankie Say Nia in 22 cities:
Forest Grove, OR
Eugene, OR
Nevada City, CA
Campbell, CA
San Diego, CA
Santa Monica, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Durango, CO
Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Austin, TX
San Antonio, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Houston, TX
Dallas, TX
Kansas City, MO
Lyons, CO
Boulder, CO
Boise, ID
Spokane, WA
Bellingham, WA

Eight of the engagements listed above were at places I had never been before. The rest were return engagements.

In addition to that, I taught my FreeDance Playshop three times and a Choreography Co-Creation playshop three times. In one city, I focused on teaching the local teachers my Rock & Roll Nia routine. In another city I participated in a teacher Jam and in another I battled it out with a fellow teacher, pitting my classic 80's songs against her 80's cover songs. Along the way, I took a few classes from other teachers as well, including a Move IT class taught by Mark Frossard.

This video was put together by a student in Forest Grove. 


Video posted on Facebook from my class in Albuquerque

Blog post about my visit to Campbell, including FreeDance Playshop and Frankie Say Nia routine.

After class in Phoenix, AZ

the "Tidal Wave" in Boulder, CO

After a FreeDance Playshop in Lyman, WY

Post Frankie Power in Albuquerque, NM

Post Nia Claw Hand Power in Durango, CO

Sweaty Personal Power in Nevada City, CA

80's Nia fashion poses in San Diego, CA

Teacher Jam in Houston, TX

Originals vs. Covers: Nia Duel in Dallas, TX

Frankie Say Nia at 6am in Houston, TX

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Memories of my Coffee Cup from the Road (spring 2015)

Every day I have a special moment with my coffee mug. It is fleeting but important. And every morning on this last road trip, I took a picture of my coffee mug and posted it to Facebook so that my friend could get an accurate idea of the size of it.  Usually once it was posted on Facebook, I'd delete it from my phone, but here is a collection of coffee mug photos that, for some reason or another, didn't get deleted.
Perhaps there is some special secret message in them, but I haven't found it yet. I'm posting them here in the hopes that one of my clever friends can decipher the meaning and let me know.
Spokane, WA

Thornton, CO

Thornton, CO

Salt Lake City, UT

Denver, CO

Lenexa, KS

Tempe, AZ

Addison, TX

Dallas, TX

Oklahoma City, OK

Addison, TX

Sedona, AZ

Campbell, CA

Medford, OR
Jacinto City, TX

Evanston, WY

Salt Lake City, UT

Spokane, WA
Seattle, WA

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Western States Tour According To River (Guest Blogger)

I visited and had significant business in 37 cities in 12 states.

I wait in the car a lot these days. When we arrive at motels or at studios or sometimes to other people’s homes, the human goes in first with the cage and then comes back to get the luggage and gets me last. Its much better than how we used to do it. When he brought me and the crate in at the same time, we’d often run into logistical problems in doorways or on stairs, or if we ran into someone before we were set up, it was awkward. Also, waiting in the car before classes prevents me from having to busy myself while he sets up the cage and other people are poking at me and trying to grab my head or look into my eyes. Now, I just hop out of the car when everything is all set up for me. I might visit a couple of bushes on the way in, but then I go directly into my crate, curl up and lie down. I can watch the human or fall asleep when I hear him do his routine.

I’ve been in 22 different facilities where the human has done this or some kind of routine with crowds of excited humans and loud music. Twice in a row, the humans gathered inside while I waited in the car.

Mostly the humans left me alone but a couple of times, someone locked on my eyes and slowly approached with an energy I didn’t know what to do with so I barked out of panic and they went away.

I wait in the car when the human retrieves food for himself. I don’t bother asking for any of his food, he never gives me any. I know where my food is, though. Some of if it is in the dark grey box under the darker grey box by my feet. And the other stuff for me is in a tub on the floor of the left rear passenger seat, but it has a lid and you need thumbs to open it.
In Sedona I was left alone for hours at a time. Once, I pushed out the plastic lining from the bottom and pulled the blanket that was covering the crate through the bars of the cage. Then I climbed on top of the blanket.

I stayed at 20 Motel 6s and five private homes. I also visited another home but didn’t stay over night. I stayed in and visited homes with cats and dogs and as long as I was kept away from them, we got along fine. In some homes I was kept mostly in the crate or on leash and in other homes, I was given free run. Most were somewhere in between. When I run around and sniff a lot it gets me so excited and I don’t know what to do with myself.

As soon as we got to a place called Texas, I started to itch. Bad. Like all over, turning pink and just can’t get enough of scratching myself kinda itch. It lasted the whole week I was in Texas, but by the time we got to Oklahoma it was starting to clear up. I got to eat a lot of coconut oil and I got one bath that wasn’t pleasant like the usual soap, but seemed really caustic. That sure didn’t help the itching thing much, if you know what I mean.

In Boise, I went on a super long walk near the river. I played in or drank the water a little bit in many different spots. I saw many dogs; most of which I was able to deflect and be OK. But after we had stopped midway through our walk to rest under a shady tree, this one grey Husky just got my goat by the way he was standing and looking at me as they walked by and I just saw red and lunged at him. I was immediately fished out of the frey by my neck and when I whirled around I saw the bite toy and clamped down on in. It wasn’t the one that could absorb a lot of bite, but then the human and I ran together and then he stopped so I pushed the toy into him a few times. Then he grabbed the toy and we tugged on it a few times until he let go and we ran some more together. We did this a few times, and I honestly forgot about the Husky. Until he came BACK again the other way and the whole scenario above repeated. We think that might be why I was limping a bit the next day.

I have learned that when the car says “You Have Reached Your Destination” that the human is going to be getting out of the car soon. I want to come, too.

I like my face out the window at 35 mph and below. Any faster than that, forget it.

OH! And… I fell out of the car in Boise. I was being cool and hanging my big head out the fully open window. I didn’t realize the human was going to make a left turn and the next thing I know I’m paws over tail through the window and out on the pavement. My car was gone and all of these other cars were driving around me. I stood there, looking around, not sure what to do, until I heard “River!” and started off running in that general direction. “River!” I heard again, and this time I was more clear where it came from. I followed the clapping sounds into the open passenger door of the car. Safe. All of this is just my way of saying that I prefer to have the window only half rolled down. Never fully down.
Near some cactus in Phoenix

Me and the human

A nice day in Austin. Nice enough to wait outside the studio until the last minute before class.

I'm just going to lie down on the filthiest part of the parking lot, mKay?


"I'm bored"

I started out the trip cramped in the front seat and held in with a seat belt. After changing the settings on the navigation system once too often, I was given the honor of the back seat to stretch out in. I did have to share it with some ice coolers and luggage but we got along fine. In the beginning I was still wearing the seat belt, but eventually that ritual seemed to die away and no one minded.
Lots of legroom back here

I'm king of the mountain near the Bear River.

Riding in the back seat...
Playing in the river in Sedona, AZ...
riding in the back seat....
dirt road in Idaho...
river in Evanston, WY...
train in Dallas, TX...
itching in Houston, TX ....

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Road Trip According to Babe

In the garage in Seattle before leaving.

River and Babe, ready to go!

She only had 6 miles on her when we started on March 21. This trip was 7850 miles and we averaged about 36 mpg. The average price for gasoline along the way was about $2.75. It was highest in Boise, at $2.89 and the lowest I paid was $2.49. Most of the time I was able to find pretty good gas. I like to use gas rated at 93, but I'll go as low as 91. There was only one time I had to use gas rated at 90. When I do, I notice a distinct difference in the way the coopers run. I got into the habit of refilling the tank just after it was down to half empty. I’d pay with a $20 bill and most of the time, I’d get change back after the tank was filled.

Mini recommends using BP gasoline. In the past, I had used BP quite a bit and used Chevron as a second choice. But this year, I didn't see a single BP station the whole time I was out. I even did a few navigation searches for BP stations, but the few times I found them listed as an option, I went there and found that they were some other kind of station, or that there was no station there at all. I wonder if the gulf oil spill ruined their business in the US.
Parked at Motel 6 in Eugene, OR

River hanging out in the boot in Sedona

Babe posing with my coffee equipment in a Motel 6 parking lot in Texas

I was upset when I learned that when I’m inside the car and it's running, I cannot hear notifications or any sounds on my phone. I can access the functions on the phone, but it goes through the Mini onboard computer via Bluetooth. I realized that this is actually a good feature because I no longer know when people send me texts while I’m driving. I do still hear the phone ring, and I could answer the call by using the microphone on the steering wheel and the sound system in the car, but I dislike taking phone calls anyway, even less so while I’m driving, so I just let them go to voicemail. Most people I know know better than to call me, so I don’t get many calls anyway.

We weren’t out on the road for long before someone passing me on the highway ricocheted a rock up into my windshield. Fortunately, it didn’t crack it, but just left a little hole, which I think can be easily filled when I get my next detailing.

I have the navigation system set to take me on the GREEN route. I’m not sure if it refers to scenic routes or somehow saving money or gas, but I’ve noticed that whenever it doesn’t take me TOO far out of the way, I will be sent down farm-to-market roads and back roads through small towns instead the main Interstate Highways. This was all fine until the penultimate drive, from Boise to Spokane, when I found myself on a treacherous gravel road for about 80 miles. It took me an extra three hours because the navigation seemed to think I’d be doing 55 on these roads, but it was unsafe to go much fast than 20 on most of it. I will never forget the names. I took Big Flat Rd. (ironically, it was neither of those things), Crane Rd., and Indian Valley Highway, which was unpaved for a few miles and then turned into pavement after a while. I was never so happy to see pavement!

Driving on dirty Idaho roads
We fit so nicely inside this car! River’s cage and my luggage fit snugly into the boot. My ice coolers fit perfectly in the left back seat and in the leg compartments in the back while my backpack with my money, business related stuff and electronics is in the passenger seat. River rides in the rear right on some blankets.

When we took off from Seattle, I had just purchased the car earlier that week, so there were no license plates. There were only the temporary dealer plates that would be expired before I was scheduled to get home. So I had to have my license plates mailed to me in Houston so that I wouldn't be breaking the law by the time I drove home. All went smoothly and I was legal the whole time.
Babe is legal in Houston!

There’s a camera for backing up. I haven’t quite adjusted to it yet. Fortunately there is also a digital display that changes colors toward red as anything approaches my field of vision as I’m in reverse. There is also a quite insistent tone that sounds and grows increasingly quick, loud and dissonant as I get closer to objects behind me. The objects in the camera look as though they’re yards away even when the sound and digital display make it seems as though I’m sure to collide with it. So I’m not really sure what to believe. I trust I’ll get the hang of it.
River saying Hi from the back seat

I really love some of the features, like the automatic climate control; I just set the dial to 68ยบ and it will heat or cool automatically. And I can set it for a different temperature for the passenger side. I like to set the passenger side a bit colder so I don’t have to feel the A/C directly, but it still cools the interior. I also love the comfort access feature. I just have to have the key in my pocket and the doors will automatically unlock for me. I also don’t have to use the key to start the car. If it’s in my pocket, I just flip a switch and the car starts. When I stop at a stoplight, the engine shuts off and stays off for as long as my foot is on the brake. When it’s time to drive again, I just release my foot from the brake and the engine has started by the time my foot reaches the gas pedal. I also have three driving modes: Sport, Mid and Green. In Sport Mode it is turbo charged and the suspension is at it’s tightest. In Green mode the suspension is more loose and the engine has a softer response to my pressing on the gas pedal. There are also little reminders if I’m in Green mode and I go over the speed limit or am pressing too hard and wastefully on the gas pedal.

I was a bit frustrated at the beginning of the trip because I couldn’t figure out certain features, but now that I’ve been working with it for these past weeks, I think it’s safe to say that I love the car.

I still have to get my GoPro camera installed, and I expect there to be some unexpected limitations to it that will require some adjustment before I learn to love it, and of course a learning curve. But I do hope that it will make for some interesting documentation of my next trip.

Another feature that Mini has is that I have an official guy at Mini that I can call and ask any questions about the operation of the car. And in fact, we have an official meeting set up, called a ‘Second Date’ where we sit in the car and he explains all of the details that I haven’t been able to suss on my own.

Stopping for some gas and a stretch in California

The center display where I view my maps and other onboard information.