Central Intersection

A place where ideas on health, fitness and awareness come together to help make sense of our bodies, relationships and careers. The Central Intersection is where ideas from many sources are connected to help create a unifying theory. I feel I need to add a common sense disclaimer so... This blog is designed to be a dialogue of discovery. It is not intended to serve as medical advice or diagnosis.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Basic Foot Series

This is a copy of a post you can find on my ski-specific blog Snow Deva... I figured I would share it here as well as it lends itself to a variety of interesting conversations!

This is based on work I have done with Sara Azarius from Yoga on Centre - she is a wonderful resource and is an amazing yoga instructor.

I presented an abbreviated version of this work at the final 2010-2011 Winter Diva's Wednesday. It is wonderful to treat your feet after having them in a pair of ski boots... or any other restrictive footwear all day :)

Let me also take a second to thank my wonderful sister Kimm Viebrock who is not only the model but took the time to type up the handwritten notes I scrawled for her to follow :)

Enjoy! Let me know if you have questions or comments.


Kjerstin Klein

Basic Foot Series
This series is designed to open up the joints and stretch the muscles of the lower leg and foot.  This is a critical component of re-adjusting after being in ski boots or other footwear that is rough on the feet.  It will also help to build the muscle of the lower leg and feet while improving resilience in order to absorb impact and support the rest of your body effectively.

Retraining and Building Awareness in the Lower Leg and Foot

Start by standing with feet together.

Re-position heels so that outside edges of feet are parallel.

Lift toes while pressing ball of the foot behind the big toe and also behind the small toes into the floor. Work at spreading all toes wide and lifting the arch from the bottom of the foot rather than from the top of the foot. This means do not use your ankle to move your arch further from the floor - it means use the muscles of your foot to actually contract your arch lifting it from the floor.

Opening the Ankle with Lateral Movement

Widen stance to beyond shoulder width, keeping outside edges of feet parallel. Ankles will be bent to accommodate stance.

Rotate onto inside edges of feet to straighten ankle.

With ankle straightened, begin working to flatten outside of foot back toward the floor.

Keeping all other elements in place, lift the big toe.

Keep stretching toes outward while lifting big toe and lifting arch from beneath the foot. This means do not use your ankle to move your arch further from the floor - it means use the muscles of your foot to actually contract your arch lifting it from the floor.

Opening the Knee with Flexion

Place a cushion on the floor and kneel on the cushion. Prior to settling all the way to a sitting kneel, adjust the knees upward and place a rolled up blanket or yoga mat as far into the bend of the knees as possible. Settle back into a sitting position as far as possible, using a yoga block for support where needed.  To 'adjust knees upward' simply reach below your knee cap and draw the skin of the knee back towards you - this will help to relieve some of the tension on the knee making the position more comfortable.

Repeat, moving the blanket/mat to mid-calf .

Repeat again, moving the blanket to where the calf muscle ends just above the ankle.

Opening the Ankle with Flexion

Hold onto a door for bracing and place the foot flat upon the door, bending knees and body as needed to make this possible.

Continuing to brace against the door, slide the foot slowly downward until the heel touches the floor (The white paper you see is because she kept sticking to the door - we needed to create a surface she could slide on to move her foot :).

Begin re-positioning body to a vertical position close to the door, allowing heel to move outward.

Continue re-positioning the body and the foot until foot is flat on the floor with only the toes still in vertical position against the door.

Opening the Big Toe Joint with Traction

Begin toe traction by placing the weight of the heel of one foot onto the large toe of the other foot. Shift the body weight to the balls of both feet, allowing the back foot to raise the heel while keeping the big toe in place.

Bring the heel of the rear foot down and back while keeping the large toe in place with the weight of the front foot. As the rear foot is lowered, it will be stretched slightly with that tension.

Opening the Forefoot, Aligning the Big Toe

Sit on a chair with heels approximately a yoga block-width apart while angling toes towards one another (pigeon toed). Slide a yoga block between your feet and loop a yoga strap around the big toes, bringing it snug. Slide the yoga block slightly forward into place with the front edge ending at the big toe joint. Narrow the heels so the entire length of your foot makes contact with the block introducing some tension at the toes.  Stand up from chair if possible.

Stretching Muscles, Tendons and Fascia From Ankle to Toes

Wrap or tie a yoga strap snugly around the ankles, then gently lower into a kneeling position on a cushion. Before settling, adjust knees upward then sit on heels with toes forward, flat on the floor.  To 'adjust knees upward' simply reach below your knee cap and draw the skin of the knee back towards you - this will help to relieve some of the tension on the knee making the position more comfortable.

Repeat with feet and toes pointing directly backward so that the tops of the feet are on the floor. Support body weight with hands as necessary.

Stretching the Muscles, Tendons and Fascia of the Lower Leg with Extension
Kneel on a blanket on the floor, manually re-positioning calf muscles outward and adjusting knees upward, then settle down into a sitting position between the legs, with feet pointing directly backward. Tops of the the feet will be on the floor. Have a rolled up blanket and/or yoga mat (or two) positioned lengthwise directly behind along with a yoga block positioned for a headrest.

Lie backward onto the blanket, using a yoga block for a headrest if needed, allowing the upper legs to stretch and the chest to open up.

Rest and assimilate all of the previous work in Savasana with a rolled up blanket supporting the knees and another rolled up blanket as a headrest.

It may be difficult to achieve benefit from these poses without knowledgeable help.  Please feel free to contact me at any time should you require clarification.  Please do not attempt any of these poses if they cause pain in anyway, As always, use common sense, this post, and all others on this site are not meant as medical advice.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010


Today is Tax Day - the day to pay the "Man". For most of the past week I've heard very little other than complaints about paying taxes and how unfair it is...how we shouldn't have to.

I'm just as frustrated as the next guy when I feel my tax dollars aren't spent well. I have fought against paying more than my fair share of taxes but the fact of the matter is that taxes are paid for a reason - because we, as a group, as a civilization - are more effective as collective-bargainers than we are as individuals.

We all require an infrastructure to keep our communities viable, we all benefit from nice stadiums where sports, arts and civil interests are supported and we all need to chip in to lend a helping hand to those in our society that are trying to gain a solid foothold in the American Dream...not only because it is the right thing to do but because in the end it benefits us to do so.

I will be the first to admit that there are many unscrupulous people in politics who crave power and spend the money that is entrusted to them by their peers inappropriately - that, however, is not a problem with the system - it is a problem with the individuals IN the system. No laws can be designed to regulate good behavior. It takes a populace who is involved, interested and cares.

So stop complaining - get involved. Make sure your tax dollars are spent the way you think they should...That is why we have a country of Taxation WITH Representation so we can collectively bargain for those things we want and so those with ulterior motives are kept from spending tax dollars in ways that do not support us collectively.

You may even want to try to take it a step further - try being grateful for all that your tax dollars are able to provide for you...maybe you are grateful that you have running water in your homes, your trash is picked up on a weekly basis or that you have roads to drive on...whatever it is you may have been taking it for granted and maybe, just maybe, for one day you can practice being grateful for those things....maybe even try writing THANK YOU on your tax check when you send it in. You never know who you might make smile :)


Kjerstin Klein
Central Intersection

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Zoysia: Early Spring Update

Spring is in the air, the rain has finally melted all of the snow from my front lawn so I figured it was time for the long-awaited Zoysia update.

I have received many comments and e-mails wondering how my project has progressed and I have tried to get back to each of you but have not had any pictures to share until now.

My post-planting experience last summer was positive. I watered my new Zoysia plugs diligently and within the first two weeks each plug felt solid in its hole -which said to me that roots were being sent out.

It is true that the plugs stayed brown for a long time but within a month I noticed small green shoots in most of the plugs. I will have to say that the bigger the plug the more/faster the green shoots showed up. My theory is that there was less root trauma in the bigger plugs so they rebounded faster.

We had one of the wettest summers on record here in Pittsburgh and since Zoysia prefers it dry and hot I was concerned that I would loose some of the plugs. But there was no sense in taking any pictures because my Zoysia was virtually indistinguishable from my 'regular' grass - unless you are good enough to tell the difference in the blades. By early fall my Zoysia did not look as perky as my 'regular' grass but there were brownish patches all over my lawn in both the Zoysia areas as well as the 'regular' grass areas. Mostly it didn't matter for too long because soon it was all covered in snow...until this week.

The pictures above are of a patch of ZOYSIA on the LEFT and 'REGULAR' grass on the RIGHT. The patches are of approximately equal sizes and as you can see there are both brown patches and green shoots in both. Again, unusually intense weather has probably had a unique effect on the Zoysia since it tends to prefer warm, dry climates but I'm interested to see how my lawn greens up. I will take more pictures as soon as it looks like something new is happening :)

Kjerstin Klein
Central Intersection


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lose Belly Fat Fast and Free

Lose Belly Fat Fast and Free - just read my blog and I'll tell you how!

Ok, I'm sick of it! I probably owe you a bit of an apology right up front because this is about to be a bit of a rant...I'll try to tone it down so that more of you are likely to read further and hopefully gain some insight, after all, that is what Central Intersection is supposed to be about - not just someplace for me to blow off steam.

Americans have gotten a bad rap for being unfit and out of shape. I admit that there are many unhealthy people out there but frankly - they probably aren't the ones scouring the Internet for ways to lose belly fat - they just don't care enough to go that far. For those of you who DO care, you probably have done all of the 'normal' things...you eat well, or decently enough, you do some form of exercises but you've been convinced that you have to lose belly fat or suffer being imperfect.

It is easy to see how you've been convinced. Not a day goes by that I'm not inundated with magazine covers promising me miracle ways to lose belly fat, Internet banner ads flicker across my screen "Pittsburgh woman discovered how to lose belly fat, click here to learn her secret" skyscraper ads make promises to lose belly fat and even show some dynamite animated graphics that show how adorable I would be if I were just to loose belly fat! Adsense is littered with Lose Belly Fat ads - and I guess, since Central Intersection doesn't rank very highly, I tend to attract low cost adsense ads but I see 'lose belly fat' junk all day and I have to admit - I often get curious and I know better!

Well - let me help you, hopefully then you too will know better and not fall prey to this senseless advertising. Now I understand you are smart and can sense a scam from a mile away - so you probably have been smarter than me and never clicked on one of the silly ads I've mentioned above...but they probably piqued your interest - "what do they know that I don't know?" or thought "Yes, I could lose a few pounds and it does happen to be around my belly" so what's the harm? The harm is that all of this advertising has convinced you that you have to lose belly fat and 9 times out of 10 it is posture that is your problem not belly fat.

Yes, posture. I'm sure you stand relatively erect. Your shoulders are back and your chin doesn't jut out but there is more to it than that.

If you have been convinced that belly fat is your issue my guess is that you have spent hours in the gym or on your bedroom floor doing crunches and core exercises and done the whole 'feel-it-burn' routine. It may surprise you that it is the very thing you are doing to lose belly fat that is causing what appears to be belly fat.

If you are doing crunches and traditional core exercises that focus on the abdominal muscles you are creating an imbalance between the muscles of the back body and the muscles of front body. Aside from the spinal issues that this can cause it also can act to disengage the intrinsic muscles that are responsible for holding your upper body erect - forcing larger muscle groups to activate and take over a job they were never designed for. This can lead to fatigue and injury but even more important it can essentially cause a collapse of your carriage. With the shortening of the abdominal muscles and the pulling of the shortened front body against the weakened muscles back body the entire upper body becomes shorter, more compact.

A shorter, more compact upper body can lead to a multitude of issues; digestive problems, bladder, kidney and prostrate issues, endocrine problems and uterine issues - its not a pretty sight but the worst of all of it is the darn belly fat!

Ok, its not really belly fat - sure most of it is fat but those rolls aren't necessarily a problem. If they covered more surface area for example, they wouldn't LOOK bad and honestly, isn't that what we are after? We want to look better.

The reason those rolls appear around your middle is because you have telescoped your body enough to cause the skin and underlying structures - fat included - to have to fold over to take up less space. This effect can be seen if you lay a hand towel down on a hard/slippery surface and push the ends towards one another - the fabric bunches up into several rolls right?

You see this also in your upper back - those unsightly rolls that push out around your bra strap...they want to sell you SPANX to cover those up don' they? You don't need SPANX you need to work on your posture!

Ok, I hear you - you are calling B.S. - you don't believe a word I'm saying do you? Ok, test it for yourself. Hang upside down - find a chin-up bar or go to a kids playground and just hang yourself upside down. If hanging upside down is impossible for you then we need to have another conversation but until then you can get a similar effect if you hang by your arms upside right but then you don't have a free hand to pinch with :)

When you hang you will notice that all of those bumps and rolls go away - now give a yourself a pinch and see that there isn't as much there as you thought. This is a far better representation of what you body should look like if you were to use it properly. Now it is true that by hanging you will have gravity providing a bit more traction than your intrinsic muscles would provide but I believe that the tension most people hold in their muscles and connective tissue will counter balance the traction.

The fact is that most of us could be significantly taller - there for spreading our 'belly fat' over more surface area - if we simply used our bodies with greater efficiency and stood at our full height so that our outer layers didn't have to fold and roll to accommodate our shortened stature.

So, now I'm sure you want to know how to do that. Well to undo all of the years of core exercises you have been duped into doing I suggest you go and find your local Iyengar Yoga studio. Now I will agree that it is the teacher not the style that makes for quality yoga but I feel that the Iyengaries, as a rule, have a better understanding of biomechanics and structural alignment; most other styles accommodate the yoga to fit the body not the body to fit the yoga.

Iyengar yoga relies heavily on props and supports to make the biomechanically correct poses available to all levels of fitness and flexibility. Iyengaries will teach anyone, at any level. Yes, it is work, work in a different way than most westerners are used to doing work - it builds awareness and brings change - the exact change you will need should you care to really lose belly fat.


Kjerstin Klein
Central Intersection

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Blizzard 2010: What Several Tons of Snow Teach You About Life

Here in Pittsburgh they are calling it the Blizzard of 2010, Snowlapalooza, Snowpocalypse, snowmaggedon, snOMG or the tsnownami - and it has gotten international attention. For me the drama was relatively limited as I watched the snow fall from inside up at Seven Springs, a ski resort outside of Pittsburgh. True we were snowed in for several days, had to hike out from the house in waist deep snow to get the kids to their ski race and had to be dug out by a bucket loader but all-in-all our experience was pretty tame.

The stories from friends were more serious - car accidents, kids having to sleep in the car in a parking lot, having to hike miles in the thigh-deep snow in dress shoes to get home, being without power for days, some of our staff even had to sleep in our store because they couldn't make it the short distance to sleep at our house...those stories are far more intense than my own and make for great 'remember-when's'.

Now that the kids are back in school after being out for as much as a week in some cases there is time to reflect and examine the experiences of Snowlapalooza. I think that such an intense experience deserves some introspection - how did it affect us, has it changed us in any way. I would suggest that, even if you aren't entirely aware of it, the experience has changed you a great deal.

When I examine an event like this, the first, most dramatic thing I see is the difference between how the adults look at the experience versus how the children view the experience. Without exception every child I spoke to thought this was simply the best experience of their young lives - including those that had to sleep in the car in a parking lot! Adult responses ranged from being something like that of the children to out-right hostility. In an attempt to not sound too judgemental I will suggest that those with the positive attitude towards Snowlapalooza may have an edge over those who felt truly put-out.

Kids have the amazing ability to take life as it comes and to allow every experience to be an adventure. We don't naturally loose that as a necessity of age - we loose it because we begin to pigeon-hole life's experiences and we make judgements about how things 'should' be and we are disappointed when life doesn't work out that way. Some of my friends argue that it is because children don't understand the severity of a situation like the Blizzard of 2010, that we, as adults are responsible for every one's safety, welfare and well dammit, I have a JOB to do...yes, I hear you, I have a job and kids that I want to keep safe as well but I would suggest that it is possible to have both a positive experience during something like Snowlapalooza AND be serious about your job, your kids safety and the like.

The reason why something like Snowlapalooza is such a great vehicle for developing ones awareness is because for the most part people are not in mortal danger...true, there are exceptions and I do not want to belittle those but lets face it - we are not talking Hurricane Katrina here. The Blizzard of 2010 created a situation where there was really nothing you could do about it - you had to wait it out, accept the situation for what it was and simply wait - there were many opportunities for sane judgement - chances to determine if what you WANTED was reasonable, responsible, achievable or if you simply had to let it go. It was a great chance to practice letting go and simply allowing life to happen the way it was going to happen.

So in my mind this is the perfect opportunity to explore how the Blizzard of 2010 affected you. Were you like the children, were you more put-out by the whole thing - or somewhere in between?

If you reside more in the 'put-out' camp take a minute to explore what truly bothered you about the experience. It may be that you were simply annoyed by how unprepared you were - didn't have blankets or food in the car? I'd be annoyed too if I was forced to sleep in the car without any provisions. Irritation may stem from poor decisions made that resulted in unnecessary trouble - like the high school kids who had to sleep in the Subway in Somerset because their ski trip had not been canceled and they couldn't make it home. By the way, it is important to note that I believe most of those kids had a blast - it is the parents who were in the 'put-out' crowd. For the people who are irritated with the weather for those reasons it is a good lesson in disaster preparedness and decision making - two very important lessons that should be taken to heart. Some people are just cranky because the hate snow and cold...they should simply move to someplace warmer. I caution those people, however, to consider earth quakes, mudslide, tornados and hurricanes before they choose a place to settle down. There are some people, however, that are simply irritated by the lack of normalcy; the interruption in their habits, life's patterns and the fact that they couldn't go to work and kids couldn't go to school...THAT is what we are supposed to be doing after all, isn't it?

For those people, I fear they have a great deal more work to do to get to a point where they are able to let go, accept life and life's experiences as a vehicle to change. The Blizzard of 2010 is the perfect experience to examine how you might release some of your expectations - be more child-like in your approach to your life and what life hands you because no matter how you try you can't control it - all you can do is prepare for it the best you can, enjoy the calm water and surf the rapids.



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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Time Magazine: The Paperless Chase

I know Central Intersection hasn't been the prolific blog I'd hoped it to be - so many other things pulling at me I guess. I find just keeping up with my reading to be a challenge. The start of the new year, however, found me committed to catching up with my magazine overload so this morning I vowed to finish the November 23, 2009 edition of Time Magazine - I know, why bother when it is so far in the past, but I find the arts and opinion articles to be relatively timeless so I'm willing to at least scan them before I toss an out-of-date copy. This is how/why I stumbled on an articlette the really got my goat. It got my goat so badly that I tore it out of the magazine and started to jot notes all over it - The articlette is The Paperless Chase by Barbara Kiviat and I found it to be narrow minded, short sighted and frankly...inaccurate. Yes Ms. Kiviat, I have to call you out on this one.

Ms. Kiviat's premis is that we are less likely to take our credit card statements seriously if we don't see it, handle it and relate to it on paper; that the electronic versions of credit card statements are causing us to loose the ability to "internalize broader spending habits", her words, not mine. Hogwash! Oh, I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?

Ms. Kiviat does admit that there are many services coming out that help to make these on-line statements more "comprehendible" but clings to the idea that this is only necessary because we are loosing so much by not having the credit card company print and snail mail us a copy of our account statement each month. Ok, I'll say it again, hogwash.

Her premis is based on the idea that we take in information differently off of the web than we do off of paper. Who is this 'WE' you are talking about Ms. Kiviat? If you know anything about learning and processing information you know that everyone absorbs, learns and processes information differently. According to her source Jakob Nielsen, a web-usability expert, 'WE' do not learn deeply from the internet - only 'surf'....um, that will be bad news for all of the on-line continuing education credit companies out there that train nearly every significant professional field in our country. This Nielsen claims that by the time we are half way down an internet page we have tuned out...is that halfway above the fold or below?...just asking...

Well, I'd like to see your research Mr. Nielsen. Who was your subject group, how big was it, how old were they and did you do anything to determine their level of comprehension for the matterial you just exposed them to...and speaking of the matterial you exposed them to was it of any interest to them, or was it a list of screw parts manufactured by the Acme screw company? I guess I'll have to read the book... but I think Ms. Kaviat might want to spend some more time with it too because I'm not sure that his information has much to do with how we process our on-line statements.

Another of Ms. Kaviat's sources claims that it is even worse for those of us who have the audacity to auto-debit from our bank accounts to pay these credit card bills each month - we really have no idea where our money is going because we are really out of touch with our finances. I'm sorry, I'm just not buying it.

I will agree that many people do not have an acurate enough handle on their day-to-day finances but I will argue 'till the cows come home that it has anything to do with electronic vs. paper statements. It has to do with our relationship to values, money and how we utilize our resources. I will admit that there are some people that are simply more comfortable with the world the way it used to be and do not want to change - age is often the excuse but I'm not buying that one either - my 97 year old grandfather no longer receives paper statements but either way, paper statements are, for the most part, still available to those few who still want them. I do beleive that we need to ween ourselves off of paper statements - they hold little to no value and needlessly destroy valuable natural resources to produce and send. I believe that most people welcome the idea of secure, electronic availablity to their statements. It enables them to sort, filter and examine the information in a far more tangible way than a paper statement ever could and this I will argue, is the way to better "internalize broader spending habits," understand, relate to and take charge of how your resources are utilized.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bare Naked Ladies Rock Pittsburgh

I had the amazing good fortune of procuring tickets to last nights private Bare Naked Ladies concert here in Pittsburgh. They have been doing these small venue shows around the country and appear to be having a fantastic time doing it.

Diesel, the venue they chose here, is tiny compared to where bands of their caliber typically play. More a night club now than a theater it can still hold a good number of people. I have been to shows there where you don't have enough space to even change your mind. Last night, however, Q92.9, the local radio sponsor for the event, kept the crowd small giving tickets to a select few advertisers (which is how we lucked out) and call-in contest winners. Everyone there appeared to be wildly into BNL and together we seemed to make as much noise as any concert I've ever been to.

The show was amazing. It felt real, authentic and fun. the Bare Naked Ladies clearly enjoy what they do. They take the time to really visit each city they work and this trip to Pittsburgh was no different. Their show of classic BNL tunes was peppered with local flare that 'Burghers can identify as truly their own. In addition to the traditional rap they do for each town they tour (done complete with dance moves) they had two mini songs that related directly to their experience on this trip. The crowed ate it up, especially when they sang If I Had a Million Dollars-we sang along, tossed underwear, monkeys and Kraft dinner at all the right places and cheered enthusiastically at the end. They entertained us with some of our favs, a few holiday songs and introduced us to two of their new songs from their up coming release and blessed us, after an hour long regular show, with an encore. Like I said, the show was amazing.

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While these photos, snapped one handed in the darkness on my iPhone, might not do the event justice I will post the rest of what I have on my Facebook page ASAP. Thank you BNL for a great concert - it was the best holiday present you could have given me!