All hail the lower back

For more than half a dozen years I have started each day with a morning puja, to greet the morning with thanks and to ease my back and body into wakefulness. This involves stretching, some yoga, and normally 45-50 sit-ups. My back requires this attention, but so does my mind. It is my one chance to be still, to focus on a specific part of my body, and to engage in activities that help me stay healthy. Sometimes the lower back wants to play a joke, and let me tell you, it is not funny. This is one of those times, so I decided to pay tribute to the lower back.

The mighty and beautiful Columbia River, from Vista House

Vista House has one of the best views in the United States, at least for those who want to drive to their viewpoints. I love this perch, and I have been coming here now for more than 30 years. (The fun part was singing happy birthday to Vista House with other visitors and the Oregon State Parks crew, who were giving out free birthday cake. Vista House is 96 years old as of today.)

Market and Leary

I set up my GoPro on the busy corner of Market and Leary tonight, in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, and just chilled for about 20 minutes. Here’s how life slipped by on Willie Nelson’s 81st birthday, the same day the old master earned a fifth degree black belt. There is no connection between this place and Willie, except perhaps in my imagination. And I have been listening to and playing Willie the past few days.

Google Glass bottled the genie, while Microsoft flopped

A lot of research has gone into the idea of snap judgments. Social science pop writer Malcolm Gladwell wrote a best-selling book on the idea called Blink, on how the brain can make decisions in fractions of seconds. The visual arts invite this instinctive and I think deeply wise response. Why do we like one photograph or artists and ignore others’ work? What is that special stuff that makes for brilliance and artistry? I do not fully know, except that for me the response is emotional and intuitive when I see a picture or a video I like.

This thought process raced through my mind as I saw the new Google Glass YouTube ad stream in front of me, announcing itself like a thunder-clap with its Dick Dale-inspired guitar riffs. Google managed to bottle what its brand means to the public: innovation, can’t-live-without-it, market leader.

The pale shadow of a comparison in terms of YouTube ads was Microsoft Corp.’s product launch for its poorly received tablet called the Surface Pro. Everything reeked of clumsiness and corporate heaviness, decision by committee, inability to know the audience and know where the geek world had gravitated five years earlier. Dancing dude in horned-rimmed glasses and a tie and coat? Did anyone have the guts to squash this before the campaign?

Those were my gut reactions. Wondering what other people think. Does our mind’s eye immediately recognize the media that pulls at that special place between our brains, hearts, and midsections? Did you respond the same way I did? Or, does the proliferation of Google Glass parodies online already indicate that my gut was easily duped by the first five viewings.

There and back again: commuting Seattle style

The massive Port of Seattle provides an impressive backdrop for my there again and back again, and there again and back again commute. This is one of the country’s largest cargo container ports (eighth busiest, it claims), and most of it is blocked off to the public for miles. Highway 99 is one of the few places citizens can see where our nation unloads containers filled with consumer goods destined for Walmart and other retailers nationwide. In essence, I am penetrating the beating heart of our nation’s mostly consumer-driven economy everyday, enveloped by its brawn, by its scale, and by its relentless motion. For some stretches, this also happens to be one of the most scenic commutes in the country, too.

Fire, Trance, and Dance in Bali

Right after I posted my video I found nearly duplicate videos, some from 2009 as well, of this performing troupe from Ubud, Bali. I guess I was not the only tourist and traveller who was impressed by this fire trance dance performed nearly every night in the cultural center of Bali, Ubud. I loved, loved, loved this performance. I still throw down my Kecak catcalls when describing what it was like to see one of these performances on this touristy but still amazing island. Maybe I’ll post another later.

Rip-snorting, skate skiing fun in the Methow

Skate skiing is one of the most phenomenal physical activities I know, and the GoPro Hero 3 video camera is the first camera I know that can capture the pure joy of the sport. I strapped my  GoPro to my head and captured the eye-popping scenery of the Methow in mid-February with my friend who lives there. Uphill is great for the lungs and legs, but downhill is what appeals to the brain’s chemistry.

Winthrop to Wenatchee

I an enamored with the incredibly diverse ecosystem, economies, landscapes, and topographies of my home state, Washington. This is a compilation I put together of scenery between Winthrop, Wash., and Wenatchee, crossing  the many-times-over-dammed Columbia River in mid-February 2014. I filmed this using my GoPro Hero 3, which I had affixed to the roof of my car.

Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, rush hour in twilight

Rush hour in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. It used to be sleepy back in the late ’80s. Now it is home to Adobe, Google, and bars a aplenty. I have biked through here hundreds of times. I took two views, using my beloved GoPro Hero 3 edition video camera. There will plenty more videos to come with my GoPro.