Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
Hot yoga is so hot right now. In more ways than one. And most popular in recent years is Bikram Yoga. Founded by the brother of Paramahansa Yoganandi (who himself founded the Self Realization Fellowship. Angelinos know what I’m talking about.Based in Mt. Washington? In that awesome Golden Age of Hollywood mansion-turned-monastery? Overlooks the Los Angeles skyline. Off the 110? No… dang… Well, if you’re local you should go visit. Google search it. I can tell you the entire history of that place and how I came to posses such knowledge at the risk of continuing to suddenly break from my point to give a brief history of this pseudo-religion founded by an Indian expat who combined elements of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity into one easy-to-digest all in one philosophy emphasizing connection between the self and the all…. <deeeeeeeep breath> but I digress. Ahem…
Bikram is a form of hot Hatha Yoga where you step into a room at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at about 40%. It’s hot. It’s not comfy, exactly. But it’s so popular that it’s become the go-to for an insurmountable amount of rush hour survivors and people looking for an intense set of 26 sequenced postures guided and standardized in the same duration of 90 minutes per class. This is more like an intense 90-minute set of heavy weight lifting than it is a 90 minute session with dim lights, burning nag champa, and new age soundscapes playing in the background . When the class is done, you are soaked and using your yoga mat as a stretcher. You become a purge of your own sweat and misery. The latter of particular importance as evidence from previous clinical studies showed that Hatha Yoga may have anti-depressant benefits.
Massachussetts General Hospital is currently pursuing a pilot trial to study the effectiveness of Bikram Yoga as a treatment for depression. While it’s been known to many from personal experience, Dr. Maren Nyer, director of Yoga Research in the MGH Depression Clinical and Research Program notes that Hot Yoga “…appears to be a promising treatment for depression.” She notes that hot yoga provides both mindfulness and intense exercise, both known to be effective treatments of major depressive disorder.
While this is a pilot trial of an actual clinical study, Hot Yoga enthusiasts should rejoice that not only is it great exercise, but it’s very likely that, as the the earliest trial currently show, practitioners are far less likely to develop major depressive disorders. One could assume it’s the constant exercise and serotonin production thereof that is a contributing factor into this. However, I think it’s partly the discipline that has to be assimilated in order to do this regularly. I tried it twice and decide that if I can pick and choose which I will engage in regularly, I was too much of a wimp to stick with the Hot Yoga as my regular routine. Instead, I chose daily 2k runs and 90 minute weight lifting routines. Although I love my yoga mat, Hot Yoga is just too hot for me to handle.
Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
The expression “one sick puppy” has earned a whole new meaning for me. I adopted a beautiful Mastif-Lab mix named Jolie about 3 months ago. She is the light of my life these days. At 18 months, she is now about 100 pounds of pure doggy happiness. She has turned me into a total doggy-daddy. I wake up every morning at 6am to go running or have some play time at the dog park. Sometimes with wifey, but lately.. not so much. I guess I can be an overbearing dad that worries about his princess a tad too much. “She’s not a child, she’s a dog!” is my girlfriends catch-phrase as of late. I just roll it off since it was HER idea to get a dog in the first place. An idea which I objected to. But I digress…
After about 2 – 2.5 hours, we have breakfast together and then it’s off to work. Once off work, we go on another long walk and play a bit at the apartment before she’ passes out or focuses her attention on one of her favorite toys. This is everyday now. There is no “day off” since these creatures are all encompassing responsibilities. Especially the breed since she’s still a puppy in the body of a lycanthrope. As if this wasn’t enough, we ran into a poor little Stafforshire Terrier tied up to a tree and abandoned across the street from the dog park we frequent on a fateful Friday morning. After reading the note left on him (his name is Ice, it turns out) we promptly took him to the shelter to try and identify his owner. No tags, no chip, and no identity, the 6-year old lad would have been put down in a weeks time. So I did the only thing a sucker for punishment would do to ensure the everlasting glare of his already over-doggyfied girlfriend… I took him home.
It’s been three weeks now and the apartment is almost completely doggy proof. With some ingenuity, we’re keeping the moose and lycanthrope (Ice is, himself, a hefty 85 lbs of slobbery awesomeness) from driving our downstairs neighbor insane. A few anti-fatigue mats under the area rug in the living room help make it more comfortable than without it. This helps us to keep the dogs from sleeping on the couch. Also, since they are BIG dogs, our new Pet Placemat keep their food bowls from sliding around. Luckily, the pups aren’t too fond of chewing on the mats. As far as chewing on my priced possessions, well… I’d probably do the same if I was a dog.
Posted on: June 27th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
I’ve been working long, hard hours turning a project recording studio into a commercial enterprise. After about 2 years of chipping away at a very large to-do list, it seems that things finally came into place. I work with a couple of clients regularly and more seem to be coming my way. While the space is small, it’s definitely providing musicians and producers with a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. However, being that the rental space is in one of MANY grey doors that look exactly the same from the outside, I have been continuously haunted with something that feels “missing”. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Christmas lights for a more “festive” atmosphere… nope, too hoaky. A fridge full of beer? Negative. Distracting and encourages drinking while working. Not necessarily a bad thing but when you’re dealing with old-time rockers in the program… have to pass on that. I de-arranged, re-arranged, and cleaned the hell out of the space again. Put up some paintings I like, new sound panels with more visually striking cloth covers and still nothing.
Finally it dawned on me… there is not “welcome” mat. I Realized that all the other studios at least have some kind of rubber mats at the entrance to their respective spaces. Something to wipe your feet on and not track as much dirt and debris inside. But all were pretty much black and boring. What I needed was something with a little bit more flair. Not necessarily saying “welcome” or “bless this house”.. I mean, c’mon. But I was in serious need of something more inviting. Something that spoke to me and said “Hey, someone gives a hoot about this joint.” Perusing for various options, I finally settled on nice ivy patterned coir door mats to greet anyone when they first get there. Not the biggest deal in the world but it’s the little details that really tie an idea together.
Posted on: May 9th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
While staying with my brother in Mexico, he encouraged me to try some of the finer and more ‘upscale’ eating establishments available in his neighborhood of Juarez. Think of it like Mexico City’s equivalent of Silver Lake. The first Saturday there, him and his girlfriend took me and mine to a pizza eatery built out of the basement of one of MANY historical buildings there. A Spanish colonial residence who’s exterior is meticulously preserved now surrounded by technical schools, OXXO’s, 7-Eleven’s, and streets that would make a New York pedestrian squeamish from complexity. The entrance was lined with fancy entry mats and we made our way to our table. There, we decided to order a home cooked pizza. Marinara, date, and asparagus with a faint touch of wine in the dough. It was delicious. And impressive that the cooks were able to whip this out in such a short time. Craft beers abound, we relinquished in a drunken stupor back to the apartment. I made it a point to try and remember that I got a peek at the mat behind the bar. To my non-shock, it was the very non slip drainage mats so common in bars… and provided by my place of daily employment. It seemed that even across borders, the influence of ‘mats’ followed me everywhere.
The night was kind and without incident. Until the sun came up and it’s first unfriendly beams poured in through the curtain-less guest bedroom and directly into my tired eyes. As I reached for my phone to check the time, a sudden influx of pain and nausea began to manifest within me. A low rumble and gurgle urged me to get out of bed. But my weary spirit declined and with an almost child like internal plea, I forced myself back to sleep. I closed my eyes anew, and before I could reach the sweet bliss of the dream state, the rumble and gurgle turned into a stampede of wild buffalo running from something… something terrifying. Stumbling out of bed and unable to answer my better half’s mumbled inquiry, I was sat upon the freezing cold porcelain in what seemed like a flash. To the horrible shock of my tender end, what followed was a catastrophic display of entropy in it’s rawest form. For the next 30 minutes of my life I bowed before a terrible pain and sorrow I always understood was reserved for the poor, unwitting western foodie tourist on his first, uninformed excursion to a genuine Delhi eatery.
When the carnage was over and my eyes restored focus, there I sat, hunched over and staring the very thing I had all but forgotten to think of from the night before: a non-slip drainage mat.
Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
It’s too damn hot this year. Seriously. There was no winter this year. Quite literally, the coldest it got was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit and it lasted for about six and a half hours over the course of a cloud less evening sometime in January. It was pathetic and just another wonderful reminder that it’s about time to get the hell out of the San Fernando Valley. On the upside, it’s January, people got money to spend and a few trade shows are going to be taking place over the first quarter of the year that appeal to my inner conflicted and rightfully dichotomized consumer self. Namely, NAMM and CES! WOOHOO!!!
Oh the joy of newly announced products in the world of music and audio recording technology at NAMM, and everything electronic at CES. Among the hustle and bustle of eager vendors, enthusiasts, and consumers alike over softwood trade show flooring and carpets, you can feel the rush of fresh dollars signs ringing up behind the eyelids of everyone involved. The sheer magnitude of these events is enough to boggle the mind of someone not used to BIG and LOUD events outside of music festivals.
Without getting into too much detail, a who’s who of the corporate world of consumer electronics use these spaces to announce their next hot product. 4K televisions being demoed by young Nebraska coeds in bikinis paying their way towards a (possible) internship at one of these companies. After all, that tuition isn’t going to pay itself, unless of course, you’re on that academic scholarship. Which seems unlikely if your most basic avenue towards future employment is an unpaid gig strutting your silky smooth skin and complexion in tacky make-up and un-necessary (or is it) near-nudity to make sure one of the largest miners of conflict minerals breaks a profit on that new TV at the end of the fiscal year… but I digress… I’m pretty sure I said I wouldn’t get into too much detail…
It’s too hot.
Posted on: March 26th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
It is said that there are two types of people: Dog people or cat people. Frankly, I was unaware but they both sound horrifying. If I were to encounter either of these grotesque canine/feline human hybrid mutants, I’d run like hell. I have met people with affinities for regular non-mutant cats or dogs. Personally, I lean towards cats. They’re independent, quiet, clean, and compact. Dogs, however, speak to my true nature. Sweet, playful, sloppy eaters, and loud.
My girlfriend and I recently adopted a young Labradane named Jolie. She’s a Labrador/Great Dane mix and about 10 months old. She is a very big dog and very active. She’s given me a run for my money, quite literally, as my schedule now demands 2 hours of running and playing with her at either a dog park or the nearby lake in the morning, and again in the evening. And this is just on the weekdays. Training has been pretty good as she is intelligent and responsive. But a giant puppy is still a puppy. Much nibbling, much biting (playfully) and the occasional accident prone over excitement when mom or dad get home. The girlfriend will soon be be taking her to training classes and I couldn’t help but realize that she’ll probably be indoors at one of these giant dog training facilities. Selling our rolled rubber flooring for doggy day cares on a daily basis, it’ll be pretty interesting to see how well the floor holds up to the digging instincts of our new pup. Her nails are BIG and she is VERY strong. I’m pretty confident, though, that if it’s one of our surfaces as opposed to some of our competitors. It might make Jolie perk up in confusion and frustration as to why nothing is happening when she attempts to dig through to the center of the earth.
Posted on: February 25th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
It’s now the middle of February and much to my horror, we are experiencing 89 degrees here in Los Angeles. While this happens, most of our Northeastern counterparts suffer in what can only be described as near-nuclear winter. Yeah, yeah, “we’re so lucky to be in California” and “you wish you were here” and “bet you’re real glad to not have to deal with the cold”. Well, it’s not so pretty here, actually. We are suffering from a record drought and in case many of you didn’t know this, Los Angeles is an artificially irrigated city. Meaning, we laugh in the face of nature by leaching Owens Valley of it’s precious water for close to a century. All so that we can have traffic jams and Justin Bieber run amok. The upside to this, however, that the summer will be BRUTALLY hot for us in the San Fernando Valley. Which means, the girls of summer. Lots and lots of bathing suits, beach goers, and pool parties making use of our drainage mat to make sure drunk party-goers don’t lose their footing on wet cement and slip into the water before they can take their iPhones out of their pockets.
I know this all makes me sound like a Grinch, but I’m really not. I actually enjoy the summer. Well, not really. But it’s only because summer isn’t summer in Los Angeles. Summer, as I’ve mentioned, now occurs in February here in the good ol’ city of angels. The months between May and August are simply referred to as “fires’’” around here.
Posted on: February 4th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
It felt nearly impossible to come up with something to write about this week as personal turmoil has reduced me to a state of late teenage angst. The plus side of that, is that I’ve been going through some of my old music collection and found some interesting stuff. It was weird, I don’t remember even owning this CD by Swedish Gothic Industrial Emo-Core heavyweights ‘Black Rubber Mats‘… one song caught my attention and I think brief part by part analysis is on order:
‘Solid Black’ (I think the name of the song alludes to being depressed)
Amongst thousands of rubber granules
I am occasional colored fleck.
(Talking about being Mexican in a mostly homogenous Umea, Sweden)
My heart easily trimmed if necessary
(Referring the author’s personal malleability)
Aesthetically pleasing, Multi-purpose
I may be, but I’m still just underlayment to you.
(Our vocalist is very complex… he feels that he has many talents, but still bares this weight that is yet unrevealed)
Factory sheared edges
(Yeah… this guys’ deep and clearly tortured. I mean, he doesn’t want to follow the mold but be his own person!)
Designed to provide
Excellent traction… even when wet!
Designed to provide
Excellent traction… even when wet!
(Man! This is the part of the song that really got me going! Just heavy searing guitars and synths with insanely pulsating drums while this guys is just SCREAMING at the fact that despite his angst and longing, he is just another manufactured good! Society has molded him to be just that!)
When he sings this, it’s very emotive. I think he is talking about the coldness of being isolated and being the only one that feels a certain way in an otherwise homogenous social condition. I tried to look them up online, but there’s only one picture I found. I’ve posted it for your information.
Posted on: January 29th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
Another year has come and gone. It has left us with many great human achievements as a species, and I hope, as individuals as well. I can only speak for myself but, Christmas and New Years bear a special significance for me as they are the holidays which literally make me sick. I’m not talking about ideals, my gripes with materialism or the exchange of human culture for that of consumption. No. I’m talking about literally getting sick. Like the flu. Three years in a row now, I’ve been sick dead-smack on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I had to resort to copious amounts of symptom suppressors, lotion infused tissues, and Netflix. Lots and lots of Netflix.
During the course of these, I subjected myself to martial arts hits like Sidekicks, American Ninja, and other B-grade karate-chop fests. But one can never get too far from their work I guess. During the competition scene in Sidekicks (starring RIP teen heart-throb Jonathan Brandis and Chuck F-ing Norris) I saw them… crosslink foam mats, competition style flooring all strewn over the entire gymnasium. Beautifully colored and textured as if almost taunting me to think about the office.
At this point, I realized that the medication and symptom suppressors were starting to really take their toll on my coherence. It was like a bad acid trip where as the dull plot of this flick turned into a slow psychological interrogation where I revealed Freudian archetypes to a non-existent shrink. These, however, were not your typical “mother issues” anymore (I have none) but instead mutated into vague whispers of “1-3/8″ crosslink foam, 18oz vinyl… yes… very durable… competition style wrestling mats too..”
Needless to say, I drank a lot more NyQuil than I should have. Vick’s might owe me a check. For the plug on our widely read blog and for the near death experience I had on their “medicine”.
Posted on: January 9th, 2014 by Ben Gonzalez
It’s no secret that as we get older we get wiser. We also get brittle. Slowly but surely, our cells start braking down and what was once a pleasurable activity playing on the ground and getting your hands and knees dirty is now replaced by changing your oil on the garage concrete. And your reward (if you don’t know what you’re doing and spend too much time through awkward positions under your Ford-rrari Escort) is sore knees. Yes, sore knees. Now this could be just my fragile artistic genetics, and while we do have knee saver kneeling pads for such tasks, something a little more rugged and al encompassing might work better. A little more universal. Something that can allow me to roll the car into the garage yet not get completely eaten by the weight my car but STILL retain the softer and forgiving properties of foam. Hmmm… I was thinking perhaps something along the lines of rubber. Like a tuff-and-easy interlocking rubber tile but with the forgiving shock absorption of EVA foam tiles.? Does such a thing even exist?? I can’t keep making hard concrete floors my friend when all they want to do is hurt me! THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY!
And now, there is!
However embarrassing it may be that a customer had to point out the obvious for me: interlocking soft rubber tiles are actually the best option for garage floor mats
that will have multiple applications. A fully installed rubber top interlocking an all around solution for kids that want to play dirty (on the floor that is) with their action figures and imagine whole worlds where GI Joe and Spider-Man team up to fight Gumby and his hordes of green, plastic soldier minions. Or play with their ipads while sitting on the floor… I mean, that would work too if they don’t have any imagination… or action figures. Geez… I’m old… I miss G.I. Joes.. and Ninja Turtles…
It’s also great as exercise flooring
for equipment like treadmills that get used or just look pretty in the garage. Dropped 50 pound dumbells at total failure from that last rep? No prob, Rob! These suckers come in 3/8″ and 5/8″ interlocking versions so you can rep away and not crack your floor! How about a drunken brawl with your friends? Not a broken bone will be had* if you just take it to the garage, boys. Need to be on your knees for a prolonged period of time…? You know… perhaps you are assembling some sort of complex Swedish furniture without reading the instructions and need that meditative period in front of all those pieces to figure out what the hell goes where. Say no more for comfort AND practicality will be yours. And finally, maybe you feel fresh out of ideas for writing your mandatory blog and you just need some quiet time away from your cat and your pre-wife (you can’t afford a ring and your too old to be calling her your “girlfriend”) to really sort out your ideas. Then throw some headphones on, turn your avant-garde classical playlist to ten, and stretch yourself out on your new tough, durable, rubber topped garage floor and let the ideas flow through you because you just pissed off pre-wifey. Keywords and context will soon flow through you like water. You’ll thank yourself later.