Today’s new experience was Yoga.

As part of the Safe Working Week theme for our workplace, an idea was floated to try out a yoga session this morning. Having not tried yoga before it seemed, if nothing else, something interesting to write about.

The style of yoga we attempted (12 of us in total) is Kundulini – which I originally thought was a derogatory term for yoga in general – places an emphasis on deep breathing exercises in combination with various stretches, positions and contortions. The result?

Well I can’t scratch behind my ears using my toes, but I do feel somewhat relaxed and limber.

I was pleased to see that I still retained the flexibility to place my hand around my foot. Was a little disappointed in my ability to do the lower stomach exercises though. The sit ups I’ve been making a habit of doing target the upper abdominals but the silver lining is that I have something to practice that target the lower adominals; which is the only thing stopping me from going down another trouser-size.

At present I’m estimating my weight at 77kgs. Considering I started 2007 at 96kg and 2008 around 86kg, I’m rather pleased with how things are shaping up.

ha ha.

Ideally I’ll be happy when I can get to mid 60’s as far as kilos goes.

Back to the yoga: In addition to touching toes and leg lifts, there were a number of stretches that focused on aligning the shoulders and spine which now feels rather good. What struck me most though was the rest period and not just because it meant recovering from the leg lifts. The instructor spent some time starting and finishing the lesson with chanting which, if my science is not to rusty, I assume is about frequency and its affect on the brain. That was interesting though a somewhat minor reaction it provoked. However the rest/meditation period was accompanied by a chorus of gongs and the level of relaxation that brought about was an astounding change. One that I wouldn’t mind exploring further. It’s like being lulled to sleep.

The interest by the participants was such that a number of us are curious to see if we can make this a regular weekly work arrangement and I would be far from adverse to practicing this further.

Swordsman Jason excitedly directed my attention toward a new show called ‘Prototype This’. The premise is that a group of four engineers/doctors are given a real world problem to solve using technology both breakthrough and established and provide a prototype to demonstrate how effective and easy solution could be.

Its formula for presentation, down to the hosts themselves, is very close to Mythbusters and it wouldn’t surprise me to see if the same production companies managed both shows. I do think they’re trying to oversell the ‘We’re cool scientists’ bit on the first episode but considering what they delivered, I’m prepared to award kudos when it’s deserved.

The real world problem was road rage, particularly in the San Fransico area. Their solution was to design a car that would shut itself off or put itself in neutral when it detected excited or agitated thought patterns associated with road rage.

How they did it: Well first of all, watch the show because while the ‘cool’ selling gets a bit painful, the resourcefulness behind it is remarkable but basically it goes that using a prototype device that control video game elements using thought patterns, the team were able to bolt this device to the gearbox of a rally car. When the driver was calm, the gear would shift to drive. When agitated, it would be difficult to impossible to continue keeping the gear out of neutral. Further, attached to the drivers were a number of senses to measure heart, breath rate and perspiration of the fingertips that would trigger a killswitch in the car when it detected levels of aggression.

Deciding to conduct the test drive at a rally track, in order to bring out the aggressive emotions in a controlled environment, an additional level of safety was to remote wire the cars so that they would be operated by control pods with steering, pedals and so on, thus removing their physical bodies from harm but still encouraging levels of agression and excitement.

And while the dangers of coming to neutral in rush hour traffic may render this invention problematic from a safety viewpoint, it was theoretically possible that, with the addition to infrastructure, that the car could take control when it registered road rage in its driver and drive the car to a time-out zone until the driver regained his cool.

I’m steering around (heh heh) a number of cool ideas that come about during the testing including the most complex way I’ve seen to bend a spoon, but I am interested in seeing what else this show comes up with.

Oh, the final element was the deadline they gave themselves. Ten days to wire the technology, build the code, strip, reinforce and remote control the cars which was four in total!



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