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The Delightful Sensation of Getting Hot

January 10th, 2010 No comments

It’s something that I experience every time I roll up my [by then] sweaty mat at the end of a yoga class at my new (and favoritest) studio, Core Power.

As good fortune would have it, the apartment that Tracy picked months ago (which I now graciously inhabit) is precisely a 6 minute stroll when you’ve got legs as long as I.  After a bumpin’ medley of strenuous poses like crow, side plank, and more chaturangas than you can count on your fingers and toes, the class is more or less a sweaty mass of mindful breathers.

I’ve just joined the ranks of the shirtless yogis during class, foremost as a matter of comfort (did I mention the rooms are kept at a pleasant-in-Denver-January 94 degrees?).  Add a full-wall mirror to the front of the room and it’s clear why I can’t help but notice the benefit of that rigorous steak and slow push-ups regiment I undertook in Argentina.

$119/month for all you can take registers (in my book) as kinda pricey at first brush, but since I was delighted to go 5 out of 7 days during my free week, I’m in.  At that rate of attendance, my per-class price is about $6.  I grew up knowing myself as scrawny and un-datable, so this constitutes a nice change of pace at a reasonable price!

Categories: Fitness Tags: ,

Bluffing About Books I’d Recommend

January 7th, 2010 No comments

A friend of mine Tom is a huge fan of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, a treatise on a [then] new form of psychotherapy that was formulated based on the author’s experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.  The central premise is that man can deal with whatever life throws at him, so long as the “why” or purpose of it is present and deemed worthy.

At his recommendation I gave it a read, and because he’s looking to get it republished and refurbished for the times, he asked me how likely, on a scale of one to ten, I would be to recommend it to others.

I told him I’d give it a two.

It’s a good book and I actually do find it recommendable.  So why just a measly two?  I told Tom that I have about ten other books in the area of philosophy/transformation that I would recommend before this one, and how often do you have a single person follow so many of your reading recommendations as to get that far down the list?

Tom called my bluff and said, in essence, “wow, that’s cool–tell me your ten, I’m interested!”

Here’s the list I banged out in answer to most his reasonable request:

  1. Laughing with God by Jerry Stocking.  It’s my island book.  Fantastically whimsical, made up conversation between a regular dude and God.  I think it’s my most favorite personification of God, and the most believable too.
  2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  Classic, super pragmatic and spot on in it’s wisdom.  I found it noteworthy how many of the chapters map on pretty cleanly to the distinctions taught in communication courses I’ve taken, and vice-versa.
  3. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.  Not overtly transformational per se, but a really poignant guide to mapping out what REALLY contributes to quality of life versus all the clutter that we pretend is.
  4. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  Sub-titled “A guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”, it’s thick but super powerful if you can wrap your head around it.
  5. The Multi Orgasmic Couple by Mantek and Maneewan Chia.  Delightfully useful in its own right, and there’s nothing quite like the spiritual, positive Taoist slant on sexuality to wash away a lot of the head trash of anxiety and shame that still lingers pretty prominently in Western culture.
  6. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen.  Eating well for both flavor and being well nourished contribute pretty strongly to quality of life in my book, and this quick read is a fantastic treatise on the current state of our industrial food production, how much our diet has slowly morphed into so much processed corn, and what’s available out of a simple return to real food.
  7. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.  Super interesting read loaded with food for thought about humanity’s place among all life on earth.  (I get the biggest kick out of the jellyfish story.)
  8. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.  The life and times of Jesus from age 6 through to the end of his ministry (including the in-between years that biblical accounts always seem to skip over), as told by his smart ass best friend Biff.  Ironically the most accessible delivery of Christ’s message I’ve ever encountered, and funny as hell to boot.
  9. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig.  Narrative of life during a 17 day motorcycle road trip, with well written philosophical bits brilliantly interwoven.
  10. How to Win By Quitting by Jerry Stocking.  Series of self contained essays on the cultural, personal, and societal games we play and appear to be stuck in without even realizing it.  Food for thought for recognizing the water you swim in, and insight into how much of life we think we’re bound to is actually quite optional.

Living Well on the Cheap: Quick Picks from Buenos Aires

January 5th, 2010 No comments

The sister of a friend contacted me recently looking for tips for her upcoming visit (as she puts it, “I like touristy things but my friend and I (who will be there for 2 weeks with me) are more interested in good food, good wine, good people and dancing!”).

Armed with both hindsight and fond recollection, I came up with the following.  Bear in mind that the exchange rate during my visit was about 3.8 Argentine pesos to the US dollar, so to get dollars the mental math is just to divide by four, then add a little more.

  • The Japanese botanical gardens.  5 or 8 pesos well spent and the weather should be great for leisurely wandering about (hopefully not too hot!).  The restaurant there has primo sushi.
  • Practica X tango dancing.  Ten pesos gets you in for great dance every Tuesday night with a great crowd geared towards more relaxed tango practice, complete with a lesson at the start.  http://practicax.net/ for complete details.
  • Ricoleta fair on Sundays.  Right on the grounds surrounding the famous Ricoleta cemetery, it has tons of stands featuring artesian crafts and more importantly great crowds of people laying about on the lawn, enjoying yerba mate and often live music.  Try the “pan rellenos caliente” being peddled about, a hot tasty snack of stuffed bread for just 8 pesos.
  • Freddo helado.  Ice cream that is kinda ritzy at 15 or so pesos a cone, but well worth it.  My favorite cone combo is the regular chocolate and the regular dolce du leche.
  • If you’re in to meat, parrilla (Argentine-style grilled meats) can be found all over.  One superb experience I can recommend is at a restaurant called Miranda.  50 pesos gets you an amazing beef tenderloin (lomo).
  • Duck your head into any bakeries (patesseries) that have nummy things on display.  I highly recommend anything with dolce du leche in it, especially the churros.

The other day I paid about 7 bucks for a so-so steak at the local King Soopers.  It made me appreciate and miss places like Miranda and Roberto’s meat counter.

Categories: Travels Tags: , ,