Tuesday, May 30, 2006

San Francisco Weekend

I spent Memorial Day weekend in San Francisco. Some random thoughts:

- I found last minute cheap tickets with ATA. I learned why they were so cheap early on, when the same two women checked our bags and staffed the gate. They were also our flight attendants. I never saw any other employees - just these two and the pilot. It took two hours to check in, and I was exhausted by the time I sat down in my seat. It's a good thing I was raised right - at the end I was just an empty vessel full of yes ma`ams and thank you ma`ams and of course I'll give up my seat so the family with the crying baby can sit together I just want to sleep it's no problem ma`am. Inside I was feeling like a cornered bitch, but I guess it didn't show because they slipped me into first class for the flight.

- I ended up getting a hotel when Ahmed had an unexpected housing crisis. Most everyone else I know had left town for the weekend. This seems to be the pattern for San Francisco - I make plans to visit, and then everyone else makes plans to leave town. It's been like this since the beginning, 15 years ago.

- I found a room at the infamous Beck's Motor Lodge. At one point it had a wild reputation. There's a new management, and those days are over. Not everyone got the memo that the party was over - there were a few older men left behind hiding in the bushes, a few peeping toms who kept me jumping at every noise, and one strange guy looking like the ghost of Jerry Garcia who would piss out his window and onto the walkway. I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone.

- I mostly relaxed, and took in the City. I spent a lot of time hanging with Ahmed while he apartment hunted. And I wasn't sure if SF had changed, or if I had. At one point it was my Mecca, and I fantasized about moving back there one day. I thought it was one of the centers of world culture. This round it felt provincial. I saw a city that prided itself on its uniqueness and individuality - and where everyone looked the same. They were all individuals, and all in exactly the same way.

- But every time I get too cynical about San Francisco it will up and do something totally cool. This round it was a simulcast of the San Francisco Opera opening of Madama Butterfly. Joseph called and invited me down, and I figured I'd give it a shot. They set up a big screen in the Civic Center, decorated the park with Japanese lanterns, hung some huge speakers from cranes, and treated the city to a free night of opera. The last opera I saw was Eugene Onegin at Hawai`i Opera Theater. The reviews called it a "stellar production." Since I slept through most of it I figured that maybe opera wasn't for me.

But this was beautiful, and Patricia Racette blew me away. It was my first time seeing a major performer, and for the first time, I get it. Next time, maybe I'll even get a seat inside the theater.

- Rest of the weekend was mellow. I went to a party with Ahmed and his boy of the month, met Daniel for a drink at the Edge, wandered down Castro but never went inside a bar, and spent the last afternoon sunning at Dolores Park with the guys.

- Now I've got to days to jam at work, unpack, repack, and then it's off to Florida for some true decadence.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Still Life With Foot

It's only two days until I head to San Francisco, and only six days until Florida. Or: 0 surf sessions, 2 classes of yoga, 2 days of weights, and 4 bike commutes left until I touch the sky. My tan will have to hold, and my abs are as good as they are going to get this round.

Yesterday was my day to get pretty ... a haircut, then a manicure/pedicure "spa treatment." It was my first, and probably my last. I just don't get the appeal. I'd been hearing about manicures for men from all sides, too. A friend wrote in her column about bringing her boyfriend in for a pedicure, and how he's now hooked. I asked around, and was surprised at the male friends I had who swore by pedicures. A couple weeks ago at lunch some guys took the afternoon off to go get one. Big, butch guys, I should add. Well ... pseudo-butch ... the kind of guys who don't shave and hate cologne and could probably bathe more ... but who will get a manicure before going to a leather party.

So I'm not one to pass up a trend. That and - thanks to yoga - I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to touch my toes with my nose, and as I get closer each week I realize that my toes could use some work.

So I went in to the salon. And I'd rank the experience somewhere between getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist and donating blood. Good for you, maybe, but not pleasant. I took my shoes off, picked up the fat Chihuahua that was sniffing at my feet, sat in the barcalounger, dropped my feet in a tub of warm water, and tried to ignore the fact that a Vietnamese lady was poking around down there with sharp objects. The barcalounger had some kind of robot mechanism inside to massage your back. While I love massages, this Wallace and Gromit designed mechanism was just making me nauseous. A few times it almost knocked me out of the chair. It was just too much stimualtion: the dog, the lady with sharp objects, the insane robotic masseur. I was having a hard time handling it all, and I did what I always do at the doctor and dentist: closed my eyes, did some deep breathing, and tried to find a far-away happy place.

After awhile I was calm enough to relax my death grip on the Chihuahua and open my eyes. Big mistake. The Nail Salon was next to Buffet 100, a Chinese place that caters to fat people. 100 items, all you can eat, $10.95! My barcalounger was next to the window, and what I saw was a steady stream of slack-jawed jaundice-eyed waddling tubs of lard staring in the window, laughing and pointing [a boy in a nail salon! ha! ha! ha!], then moving on to stuff their collective faces with Greasy Noodle Special No. 5.

I would have been embarassed, but they'll all be dead of Type-2 Diabetes before the decade is out, and I'll be at Typhoon Lagoon looking fabulous with my perfect feet.

Only, not.

All day I've been looking at my nails, thinking: I spent $35 for that? I could've done that at home if I actually paid attention. But we live, spend, and learn.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Genetics I

Finally - my brother John just got the results back from his genetic testing! He sent in a sample as part of the Genographic Project, and I've been horrible impatient watiting for the results. This only covers our direct patrilineal ancestry ... we still need to get samples from my mom's side, and my dad's mom's side.

This is cool as hell. The project results will become more detailed as more people participate & they identify more genetic markers, so I'm definitely pushing it on friends.

I tossed a genetic map down at the bottom of the blog, and here's selected portions of what they sent us [it's a lot; I couldn't find much to trim]:


Your Y-chromosome results identify you as a member of haplogroup R1b.

The genetic markers that define your ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow your lineage to present day, ending with M343, the defining marker of haplogroup R1b.


Today, roughly 70 percent of the men in southern England belong to haplogroup R1b. In parts of Spain and Ireland, that number exceeds 90 percent.


Keep checking these pages; as more information is received, more may be learned about your own genetic history.

M168: Your Earliest Ancestor

Time of Emergence: Roughly 50,000 years ago
Place of Origin: Africa
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 10,000
Tools and Skills: Stone tools; earliest evidence of art and advanced conceptual skills

Skeletal and archaeological evidence suggest that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, and began moving out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world around 60,000 years ago.

The man who gave rise to the first genetic marker in your lineage probably lived in northeast Africa in the region of the Rift Valley, perhaps in present-day Ethiopia, Kenya, or Tanzania, some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago...His descendants became the only lineage to survive outside of Africa, making him the common ancestor of every non-African man living today.


The African ice age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. It was around 50,000 years ago that the ice sheets of northern Europe began to melt, introducing a period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to a savanna, the animals hunted by your ancestors expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands. Your nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and the animals they hunted, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined.

In addition to a favorable change in climate, around this same time there was a great leap forward in modern humans' intellectual capacity. Many scientists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early human species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn't been able to earlier, all allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and replace other hominids.

M89: Moving Through the Middle East

Time of Emergence: 45,000 years ago
Place: Northern Africa or the Middle East
Climate: Middle East: Semi-arid grass plains
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands
Tools and Skills: Stone, ivory, wood tools

The next male ancestor in your ancestral lineage is the man who gave rise to M89, a marker found in 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans. This man was born around 45,000 years ago in northern Africa or the Middle East.

The first people to leave Africa likely followed a coastal route that eventually ended in Australia. Your ancestors followed the expanding grasslands and plentiful game to the Middle East and beyond, and were part of the second great wave of migration out of Africa.

Beginning about 40,000 years ago, the climate shifted once again and became colder and more arid. Drought hit Africa and the grasslands reverted to desert, and for the next 20,000 years, the Saharan Gateway was effectively closed. With the desert impassable, your ancestors had two options: remain in the Middle East, or move on. Retreat back to the home continent was not an option.

While many of the descendants of M89 remained in the Middle East, others continued to follow the great herds of buffalo, antelope, woolly mammoths, and other game through what is now modern-day Iran to the vast steppes of Central Asia.

These semi-arid grass-covered plains formed an ancient "superhighway" stretching from eastern France to Korea. Your ancestors, having migrated north out of Africa into the Middle East, then traveled both east and west along this Central Asian superhighway. A smaller group continued moving north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country.

M9: The Eurasian Clan Spreads Wide and Far

Time of Emergence: 40,000 years ago
Place: Iran or southern Central Asia
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands
Tools and Skills: Upper Paleolithic

Your next ancestor, a man born around 40,000 years ago in Iran or southern Central Asia, gave rise to a genetic marker known as M9, which marked a new lineage diverging from the M89 Middle Eastern Clan. His descendants, of which you are one, spent the next 30,000 years populating much of the planet.

This large lineage, known as the Eurasian Clan, dispersed gradually over thousands of years. Seasoned hunters followed the herds ever eastward, along the vast super highway of Eurasian steppe. Eventually their path was blocked by the massive mountain ranges of south Central Asia—the Hindu Kush, the Tian Shan, and the Himalayas.

The three mountain ranges meet in a region known as the "Pamir Knot," located in present-day Tajikistan. Here the tribes of hunters split into two groups. Some moved north into Central Asia, others moved south into what is now Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent.

These different migration routes through the Pamir Knot region gave rise to separate lineages.

Most people native to the Northern Hemisphere trace their roots to the Eurasian Clan. Nearly all North Americans and East Asians are descended from the man described above, as are most Europeans and many Indians.

M45: The Journey Through Central Asia

Time of Emergence: 35,000
Place of Origin: Central Asia
Climate: Glaciers expanding over much of Europe
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000

The next marker of your genetic heritage, M45, arose around 35,000 years ago, in a man born in Central Asia. He was part of the M9 Eurasian Clan that had moved to the north of the mountainous Hindu Kush and onto the game-rich steppes of present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and southern Siberia.

Although big game was plentiful, the environment on the Eurasian steppes became increasing hostile as the glaciers of the Ice Age began to expand once again. The reduction in rainfall may have induced desertlike conditions on the southern steppes, forcing your ancestors to follow the herds of game north.

To exist in such harsh conditions, they learned to build portable animal-skin shelters and to create weaponry and hunting techniques that would prove successful against the much larger animals they encountered in the colder climates. They compensated for the lack of stone they traditionally used to make weapons by developing smaller points and blades—microliths—that could be mounted to bone or wood handles and used effectively. Their tool kit also included bone needles for sewing animal-skin clothing that would both keep them warm and allow them the range of movement needed to hunt the reindeer and mammoth that kept them fed.

Your ancestors' resourcefulness and ability to adapt was critical to survival during the last ice age in Siberia, a region where no other hominid species is known to have lived.

The M45 Central Asian Clan gave rise to many more; the man who was its source is the common ancestor of most Europeans and nearly all Native American men.

M207: Leaving Central Asia

Time of Emergence: 30,000
Place of Origin: Central Asia
Climate: Glaciers expanding over much of Europe and western Eurasia
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000

After spending considerable time in Central Asia, refining skills to survive in harsh new conditions and exploit new resources, a group from the Central Asian Clan began to head west towards the European sub-continent.

An individual in this clan carried the new M207 mutation on his Y chromosome. His descendants ultimately split into two distinct groups, with one continuing onto the European subcontinent, and the other group turning south and eventually making it as far as India.

Your lineage falls within the first haplogroup, R1, and gave rise to the first modern humans to move into Europe and eventually colonize the continent.

M173: Colonizing Europe—The First Modern Europeans

Time of Emergence: Around 30,000 years ago
Place: Central Asia
Climate: Ice Age
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000

As your ancestors continued to move west, a man born around 30,000 years ago in Central Asia gave rise to a lineage defined by the genetic marker M173. His descendants were part of the first large wave of humans to reach Europe.

During this period, the Eurasian steppelands extended from present-day Germany, and possibly France, to Korea and China. The climate fostered a land rich in resources and opened a window into Europe.

Your ancestors' arrival in Europe heralded the end of the era of the Neandertals, a hominid species that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia from about 29,000 to 230,000 years ago. Better communication skills, weapons, and resourcefulness probably enabled your ancestors to outcompete Neandertals for scarce resources.

This wave of migration into western Europe marked the appearance and spread of what archaeologists call the Aurignacian culture. The culture is distinguished by significant innovations in methods of manufacturing tools, more standardization of tools, and a broader set of tool types, such as end-scrapers for preparing animal skins and tools for woodworking.

In addition to stone, the first modern humans to reach Europe used bone, ivory, antler, and shells as part of their tool kit. Bracelets and pendants made of shells, teeth, ivory, and carved bone appear at many sites. Jewelry, often an indication of status, suggests a more complex social organization was beginning to develop.

The large number of archaeological sites found in Europe from around 30,000 years ago indicates that there was an increase in population size.

Around 20,000 years ago, the climate window shut again, and expanding ice sheets forced your ancestors to move south to Spain, Italy, and the Balkans. As the ice retreated and temperatures became warmer, beginning about 12,000 years ago, many descendants of M173 moved north again to recolonize places that had become inhospitable during the Ice Age.

Not surprisingly, today the number of descendants of the man who gave rise to marker M173 remains very high in western Europe. It is particularly concentrated in northern France and the British Isles where it was carried by ancestors who had weathered the Ice Age in Spain.

M343: Direct Descendants of Cro-Magnon

Time of Emergence: Around 30,000 years ago
Place of Origin: Western Europe
Climate: Ice sheets continuing to creep down Northern Europe

Around 30,000 years ago, a descendant of the clan making its way into Europe gave rise to marker M343, the defining marker of your haplogroup. You are a direct descendent of the people who dominated the human expansion into Europe, the Cro-Magnon.

The Cro-Magnon are responsible for the famous cave paintings found in southern France. These spectacular paintings provide archaeological evidence that there was a sudden blossoming of artistic skills as your ancestors moved into Europe. Prior to this, artistic endeavors were mostly comprised of jewelry made of shell, bone, and ivory; primitive musical instruments; and stone carvings.

The cave paintings of the Cro-Magnon depict animals like bison, deer, rhinoceroses, and horses, and natural events important to Paleolithic life such as spring molting, hunting, and pregnancy. The paintings are far more intricate, detailed, and colorful than anything seen prior to this period.

Your ancestors knew how to make woven clothing using the natural fibers of plants, and had relatively advanced tools of stone, bone, and ivory. Their jewelry, carvings, and intricate, colorful cave paintings bear witness to the Cro-Magnons' advanced culture during the last glacial age.

This is where your genetic trail, as we know it today, ends. However, be sure to revisit these pages. As additional data are collected and analyzed, more will be learned about your place in the history of the men and women who first populated the Earth. We will be updating these stories throughout the life of the project.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Feingold Love Deepens

Senator Feingold released this after the Judiciary Committee attempted to resurrect the gay marriage ban:

Objecting to the Judiciary Committee's Handling of the Constitutional Amendment on Marriage

Today's markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. I objected to its consideration in such an inappropriate setting and refused to help make a quorum. I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee went forward with the markup over my objection. Unfortunately, the Majority Leader has set a politically motivated schedule for floor consideration of this measure that the Chairman felt compelled to follow, even though he says he opposes the amendment.

Constitutional amendments deserve the most careful and deliberate consideration of any matter that comes before the Senate. In addition to hearings and a subcommittee markup, such a measure should be considered by the Judiciary Committee in the light of day, open to the press and the public, with cameras present so that the whole country can see what is done. Open and deliberate debate on such an important matter cannot take place in a setting such as the one chosen by the Chairman of the Committee today.

The Constitution of the United States is an historic guarantee of individual freedom. It has served as a beacon of hope, an example to people around the world who yearn to be free and to live their lives without government interference in their most basic human decisions. I took an oath when I joined this body to support and defend the Constitution. I will continue to fight this mean-spirited, divisive, poorly drafted, and misguided amendment when it comes to the Senate floor.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our batshit crazy president

First: Read Alastair's comments on the last entry.

I don't think any of Bush's insults were covered by the US media. And they make no sense to me at all. I just don't know what the fuck is going on in his head.

Reagan was easy. He had Alzheimers, and his advisors worked hard at covering it up. Clinton was easy to see-through, not matter how much he dissembled. Nothing makes sense with this one. He seems to live in some alternate universe only tangentially connected to ours. I've read that he makes his policy decisions based on bible readings, and while that's quite insane it is also the best explanation I've seen.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

And yet another attack on democracy

I'm in complete shock that the President has now militarized our border with Mexico. Are we now at war with them too? The loudest outcry from Congress seems to be from those who worry that we might stress the National Guard. Nothing about the fact that we are not a police state, that Mexico is an ally, and that the poor and hungry masses are not a threat to national security.

I'm approaching a state of near-complete political numbness. Each week the news tells us of some new obscenity coming out of Washington, and I can't even recall most of them any more.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Matt Alcosiba Must Die

Next time you google your own name, buddy, this is going to pop up: Matt Alcosiba must die. Hope it gives you a good scare.

The rest of you might be wondering, who is Matt and why would a nice pacifist like MC wish him ill? Well ... consider the evidence.

It started a couple weeks ago, when Roy pointed out the he hadn't seen Skidz, my cat, in awhile. Now Skidz is a hunter, and it's normal for him to disappear for a couple days. But a couple days turned into a week, and then two, and then three, and when he didn't turn up at the pound I knew he wasn't coming back.

So that's hard. And at the pound I started to think that maybe I should rescue another cat. One to keep Mouse, above, company. I talked to Haulani, who mentionned that Matt's cat had two kittens he wanted to adopt out. Two was do-able, but the cats turned out to be long hair, which wasn't. Then he tells me he has *two* other litters, and could I handle three kittens? Because he didn't want to split a litter up. Because I'd be a good Daddy. Because because because because and my answer was always no no no no don't make me hurt you no.

Frikkin' Catholics. They don't even do birth control for their cats.

Bitch shows up at Haulani's with all three. I take two. The third cries and claws and meows and I cave. And so now I've become the crazy cat lady. Damn.

Here they are:

Llarona, Judas, & Grasshopper.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


A group of us headed to the ruins of Kani- akapupu in Nu`uanu this past Saturday. There's a trail to the area, but it's not marked, and Kani- akapupu isn't on most maps. The idea is to keep the tourists out. I only learned of it while digging through some old TMK maps while working on another project.

I got most of my information from the Pacific Worlds Nu`uanu Page. The site was once a heiau to Lono, where priests would collect tithes from travellers coming to and from the windward side. Pai`ea [Kamehameha I] and his army rested here during the conquest of O`ahu.

Later, Kamehameha III built his summer residence here. Kamehameha IV received his traditional education here. And in 1847 it was the site of a major feast celebrating the fourth anniversary of the restoration of the monarchy. From the website:

Hawaiians began to go up the valley in large numbers at early dawn. At 10 o'clock the royal party left the palace for Nu‘uanu valley in the state carriage, followed by the military (both infantry and officers on horseback bearing standards), and one thousand horse-women, five abreast, "wearing palm leaf hats and Spanish ponchos, gay with ribbons and floral wreaths." These were followed by 2,500 horsemen. Men stationed at various locations to count the procession recorded 4,000 horses going up and 4,600 returning--visitors from across the Pali making the difference. (Hawaiian Annual, 1930)

And my favorite side story ... the description of the athlete John `I`i:

"In a suit of dark broadcloth he stood in an open square or field, a brilliant yellow feather cape over his shoulders and in his hand a beautifully polished spear. Alone, erect, nearly six feet in height, bull chested and muscular, he presented a splendid figure. Opposite him on the mauka or inland side, stood a group of expert spear men wearing yellow feather tippets and armed with spears tipped with a kind of soft, bushing material. At the signal the weapons began to fly at the human target. ‘I‘i at first parried with his single lance, but presently, as the shots became faster, seizing a passing spear aimed at him and parried with both weapons until the play ended amid the prolonged cheers of a great crowd ...." (Reverend HH Parker, 1937)

It was later abandoned, and the 1874 maps already marked it as ruins. Today you can see the ruins of the house and kitchen walls. You can see remnants of the heiau grounds scattered through the woods and bamboo forest. What happened next is a mystery. The entire area, known as Laukaha, was Crown Lands. Yet around the turn of the century much of it was in the private hands of two missionary families, the Athertons and Cookes. The families still own it.

We went for a wander in the woods, and learned why. I'd heard rumors of a waterfall, and thought that if we just headed upriver we would find it. There was a path through the bamboo, and I headed down it. It soon ended at a bluff, and we could see rapids 60 feet below us. I worked my way along the edge, thinking that we'd find a side trail down. The trail thinned out, and soon disappeared, and there was still no trail down.

I kept going. Amazingly, everyone kept following. I finally found a way down ... only to find another bluff. We zigged and zagged, crossed an irrigation ditch, and then came to a steep muddy slope that looked less treacherous than any other way down we had seen. By this time I was completely disoriented, and started to prep the guys for my confession & apology for getting them lost. I didn't want to blurt out anything sudden, like I don't know where the hell we are. I figured I'd ease into it with a discussion on gee wasn't that confusing? And I wonder what happened to the trail?

Rather than turn around, Joe [Mahlon's friend] and I led them down the mountain. It was raining hard by then, so the theme was: mud. As we got near the bottom I wasn't sure what I was seeing. It almost looked like a grassy yard, which didn't make sense. We pushed through the ginger, and there it was: the rumored falls. The area around it was all landscaped, which was a surprise. We were actually in someone's backyard. The houses were on a bluff maybe 100 yards down the valley.

And now we know why the missionarries held on to this land so tightly - how many people are lucky enough to have a waterfall in their backyard?

Keeping on Message

or ... The Return of Erin Brockovich

I got a call at work yesterday from one of the guys who runs the catamarans out front of Hilton Hawaiian Village. For 27 years he's walked barefoot across the reef. Now he wears boots because of the sludge. He has never seen sludge on the reef in all the time he's been there, and it only appeared after the rains ended.

Fine. I take his name and number, and figure I'll pass this one up to the top. The chair takes the info, and passes it to the Division of Aquatic Resources, who are looking into long-term effects of the sewage dumping [The City, State, and most of the media still call it a spill. If challenged, some call it a 'diversion.' It was not a spill. It was a dump. A big, South Park-sized dump].

So far I'm feeling good. Government is working the way it's supposed to. I can be proud of my agency. It's the next phone call that bothers me. A representative from Aquatics calls and wants to know what I told the catamaran guy. That I'd pass the info to the top. Right. But did I say anything else? Not really. Anything about this being connected to the 'incident?' What exactly did I say? Uhm. Exactly and verbatim? I said 'sludge. yuck. ' OK, good. He just wanted to make sure we were all on message.

As if I was ever on message in my life.

I asked if he could call me back and tell me the results of their field inspection. He couldn't. He didn't think I was authorized to know.

Now I'm not saying that the government is covering up evidence of potential damage from the sewage dump.

That wouldn't be on message.

An Empty Mind

I'm now rounding out my first month of yoga, and it is kicking my ass. I had no idea that it would be this physical or difficult. It's Iyengar, which Keiko said is harder for bigger guys. We do a lot of balancing, a lot of core exercises, and a lot of twisting. And even though I thought I had pretty strong abs and delts, they're all burning by the end of the hour.

I do like that we don't get any of the spiritual mumbo-jumbo mixed in. We're not fixing our chakras so they flow better, or breathing fire out into the universe [tm Hollis]. Instead, it's all empty your mind and focus on your core and down. get your hips down. stop sticking your ass in the air you stupid haole.

Well, maybe not so much the last part.

I do pretty well with the 'emptying the mind' part. There's one pose - the eagle pose, garudasana - where we pretty much twist all our limbs around each other and then balance on one bent leg. It necessitates an empty mind. From Yoga Journal: For Garudasana you need strength, flexibility, and endurance, but also unwavering concentration that actually calms the fluctuations (vrtti) of consciousness.

It's simple: your conscious mind wavers in garduasana, you fall down. The first class I was determined not to be the first to fall. It wasn't easy. My mind wasn't empty. My mind was full of goddamn this hurts and how long can she make us hold this? I saw people start to sway and shake. I wished disgrace on my classmates. Somebody fall please somebody fall. The fat guy went down. That didn't count. Empty your mind. The old lady in the back corner toppled. Great. So far I'm tougher than the fat guy and the old lady. And I would sway and my leg would shake and I would cuss under my breath, but I was never the first to fall.

I was rescued by relativity. It goes like this:

I've been reading Einstein's Universe [Nigel Calder], and have been struggling to comprehend Einsteinian gravity. I finally have a slight grasp. Basically: there ain't no such thing as 'gravity' as a force. The shortest and easiest route through time is to accelerate towards the center, and it takes energy to do otherwise. Our senses interpret that acceleration as gravity.

So ... I'm doing my garuda imitation. My left foot is on the ground, my right leg is wrapped around the left, my butt is aiming backwards, and my elbows are pointing to the ceiling. I don't empty my mind, I fill it. I'm not fighting gravity, I tell myself. I am fighting time. Time is moving infinitesimally slower for my ass than my head, and if they are ever reunited then the latter will be ever so slightly younger.

I'll be close to finally visualizing the space-time continuum, Salome will be about to drop the seventh veil and reveal the secrets of the universe to me ... and the exercise will be over, and I'll realize that I didn't sway once.