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Friday, August 8, 2014

The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is probably one of  the least understood but most helpful technques to gain control over your mind and bodyThe technique was developed by F.M. Alexander, an Australian actor at the early part of the 20th Century, as a means of improving the control of his own voice as a performer.  Many prominent performers up to the present are followers of the technique, including, e.g., Hugh Jackson, the Broadway and movie actor

The cornerstone of the technique is a simple exercise that isn't really an exercise at all but rather a means of slowing down your mind and at the same time, relaxing your body, removing tension and improving your posture and breathing. It is really a form of mindfulness designed to makeourselves aware of how we move and use our body.

The essential exercise is to lay on the floor with a book or several books under your head and not under your neck.  Your head should be tilted upward somewhat and your knees should be bent with your feet on the floor about six inches from your buttocks.  You should try to keep your mind free of any thoughts and I recommend just concentrating on your breathing.  No need for any particular breathing pattern, just concentrate on the movement of air in and out of your lungs through your diaphragm.

It is recommended that you do this exercise, called the semi-supine, for approximately 6 to 10 minutes at least 6 times a day.

Once you complete your semi-supine exercises, you should feel your neck and head to be more upright and your thinking a lot more clear.

I am not a teacher of the Alexander Technique,  but I do try to practice it as often as I can. If you do decide to do it yourself. let me know how it goes.

If you would like to learn more about the Alexander Technique, please go to the following website for many good resources:www.alexandertechnique.com.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hidden Gems: Wolfgang Steakhouse

If you are looking for the best steak in New York City, look no farther than the Wolfgang Steakhouse on Park Avenue in the Flatiron  District. Located in what was once the Vanderbilt Hotel, the restaurant was established by the former head waiter at the famous Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn. It offers the true steakhouse experience and traditional steakhouse menu
We dined there on a recent Saturday night. The atmosphere is unbelievable. The architecture is superb, with blue and white curved arches on the ceiling. The waiters are extremely knowledgeable and do not hesitate to make recommendations. The steaks are huge and may be shared. Two of us had the strip steak and filet combo. It was more than enough for two and came sliced for easy eating. It is expensive, but well worth the cost.http://www.wolfgangssteakhouse.net/parkave/

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hidden Gems: Hotel Chandler, NYC

We were recently in New York City for a long weekend visit. I was looking for a reasonably-priced hotel on the Lower East Side. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a wonderful boutique hotel, the Hotel Chandler.
Located at 12 East 31st street, between Madison and Fifth Avenues, at the intersection of the Flatiron District and Murray Hill, it offers a quiet haven from Manhattan's hustle and bustle. Yet, despite that it is close by a number of major attractions, including the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden any Herald Square, where Macy's is located.
Our room, a deluxe queen, with a recently renovated shower averaged around $230.00 per night for a 3 night stay, including Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The hotel boasts a fine restaurant, Juni, whose chef has been awarded two Michelin stars, and offers complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby.
I highly recommend this gem of a place.www.hotelchandler.com

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hidden Gems: Wilkinson Razors

Beginning with this post and for the next several posts, I will be commenting on and giving my opinions on various consumer products that I think you might be interested in and which I like to refer to as "Hidden Gems".  Now what do I mean by that?  Primarily, these will be products that are probably less well-known and generally less expensive than perhaps the better known products of the same type.I will have personally tested all of the products. I will also certainly focus on those products that are "Made in America." So, let's begin and let me know what you think about this new approach and about the products I will be writing about.

The first product I would like to discuss with you is the Wilkinson Sword razor, specifically, the Triple Blade, Speed3 pivoting disposable razor.  They proudly proclaim on the package that Wilkinson has been making razors since 1875.  Before that they made swords beginning in 1772 in County Durham, England.  While those were made in England, the product package says that the current blades were made in the USA. I first came upon these razors in North Carolina almost three years ago and have been using them ever since.  I can honestly say that I have never had a better shave than with these blades.  Like most men (and women too), I have tried just about every razor imaginable: Gillette, Schick, Bic,etc.None of them give the shave that these blades do consistently and economically.  They seem to last forever even with daily use if they are properly dried after each use. (This is easy to do: just shake the excess water after rinsing the blades and either blow on the blades or use a hair dryer to dry).

The other good thing about them is that they are fairly reasonable priced in Wal-Mart at $5.98 for a pack of 8 razors. Compare this to $13.99  for 6 Gillette Mach3 disposable razors on Amazon. Although I am not a particular fan of Wal-Mart, I would definitely go out of my way to buy these razors, which are not generally  available at the large chain drugstores such as CVS or Walgreen's.

So give them a try.  I definitely think you will switch if you are using any other razors.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dead in the Water

It has been a while since I published a new post.  Part of the reason for the gap is due to the fact that I have been working on my new mystery novel,  Dead in the Water. It is the first in a series of novels featuring Lieutenant Mario Morales, a retired LAPD homicide detective who is now the head of security aboard a Caribbean cruise ship. Lieutenant Morales is sort of an Hispanic version of Columbo. If you enjoyed watching Lieutenant Columbo  at work solving crimes in his own inimitable way, you will love Lieutenant Morales in this exciting new book, Dead in the Water.

I will keep you posted when it is available, so please check back here every once in a while. And let me know if you would like a copy once it is published.

By the way, if you are already a Columbo fan or would like to become one, the entire collection of Columbo DVDs is available on Amazon at the following link. I recently bought the set for my wife and myself and it is extraordinary to see Peter Falk in his most famous role.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Blood Moon

I don' t know about you, but early this morning, I was up and out of bed to try and see the "blood moon" that astronomers and newscasters had promised would be visible overnight. So, a little after two a.m., I opened the front door and went outside.  I scanned the sky for the moon and finally found it between my house and the next door neighbor's house. The moon was full, but partially covered on one side by a crescent-shaped shadow that looked like a chunk of the moon had been eaten by a hungry mouse, thinking the moon was a wheel of cheddar cheese.

What I was seeing was the beginning of a total lunar eclipse. That type of eclipse only occurs when the sun, the moon and the Earth line up just so.  The eclipse is caused by the shadow from the Earth. Apparently, it is called a "blood moon" because as the eclipse progresses, the moon takes on a bloody reddish brown color caused by the refraction of sunlight in the Earth's atmosphere.

Fascinating stuff and beautiful to see.  If you missed this one, rhe next one w on't occur until October 8, 2014. So, Mark your calendars!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Prairie Home Companion

I have been a fan of Garrison Keillor  and his public radio show, The Prairie Home Companion, for as long as I can remember. Set in the fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegone, it is probably the last true variety show in America. And undoubtedly the best.
The show features Keillor, who writes the scripts for the show, in just about every role. Backed by an extremely talented supporting cast, a supurb orchestra and crew, the show (which airs from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Eastern time zone on Saturdays, but not every week, so check the schedule) just flies by. It is filled with equal doses of humor, pathos and beautiful music, all orchestrated by the multi talented Keillor. Keillor sings, does a little dance shuffle, and tells a number of jokes, mostly good-natured ones about the quirks of Minnesota residents.
One recent Saturday night, my wife and I had the good fortune to have tickets to the show at the Fitzgerald Theatre in downtown St. Paul. The theatre is named after the author of The Great Gatsby,F Scott Fitzgerald, who was born in St. Paul. Our seats were on the very edge of the first balcony, where we had a birds-eye view of the show as it was broadcast live across America and the world via Armed Forces Radio. The show began with Keillor walking down the center aisle singing a welcoming song. And the show ended with Keillor  and the other performances singing This Little Light of Mine. In between were comedy skits,  including Guy Noir and Keillor's famous Lake Woebegone monologue as well as performances by the Steele sisters and Willie Watson on the banjo. All the performers received a standing ovation at the end of the show and deservedly so.
If you get the chance, but all means take in a performance.