Rebel's Yell

Mystic rebels; Apollonius Tyaneus, Jan van Leyden, Sabbatai Zevi, Cagliostro, by Harry C Schnur

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mystic Rebels - copyright 1949.
The story of 4 “mystics” of which probably only one was close to a stable person.

Apollonius Tyaneus - (Greek: Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Τυανεύς; ca. 15?–ca. 100? CE)

Jan Van Leyden - (1509? – January 22, 1536)

Sabbatai Zevi - (August 1, 1626 – c. September 17, 1676)

Cagliostro - (2 June 1743 – 26 August 1795)

I wonder why he put Apollonius in this study since everybody else seems to have pushed themselves to to their emotional edges. But Apollonius was steady, diligent and very structured and seemed to always look for some greater truth. The others discovered some insights and let their passions overwhelm them . That description is a little superficial but more or less addresses the point.

Jan Van Leyden and Sabbatai Zevi show us what can happen when people with religious faith of a conventional level allow the promise of divine fulfillment overcomes mundane acceptance of an imperfect world. In these two two cases it doesn't end well. Basically they become mad with power and disassoiate themselves from reality.

Cagliostro is anticlimactic in that he is presented as starting and ending as a con man with the notion that he felt he discovered something helpful to mankind in the journey. Unfortunately the still lingering inquisition of the day found him more threatening than charming and he died in a church prison surviving for years in the most retched conditions. In case you didn't' know, he was convicted of Freemasonry (much like our founding fathers)

I bought this used book almost 10 years ago, knowing nothing about the author or the subjects. (other than Greil Marcus's comparison of John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten to his namesake and  leader of the mass Anabaptist in Leiden.

What do I take from the book? Well, history is really, rally strange and if you think people are crazy now...they were just as crazy in the past. I probably should have learned more, but that is all I can articulate now.

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Super 8: The Movie

Super 8. I just watched it and this movie bothers me. ...Super 8...It means something...almost like saying 8mm.

JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg, who both claim to love their roots in 8mm amateur film making decided to crap all over that tradition.

First off, the only reason you use Super 8 is because you are taking your Dad's camera and doing whatever you can to make something like the “real” movies you love. You have no money, no skills, only desire. What does “Super 8” do? It starts off presenting the energy of teenagers wanting to make movies* then takes all that enthusiasm and spends a bunch of money making a multi million dollar blockbuster.

They COULD have stayed true to the super 8 ethos while making a modern movie but no, they had to pull out the checkbook and buy a whole bunch of special effects. Of course the irritating part is that it starts off pretty good but then suddenly you are in Spielberg's “War or the Worlds”

With all humility and acknowledgment that my (our) Super 8 is crude, but THAT is what Super 8 is all about.

*I REALLY had trouble getting past the part about these kids having a sound Super 8 camera, and then after the one was broken another kid's dad had a sound camera. NOBODY had sound Super 8 cameras, that was something you dreamed about. Plus you would need a really expensive editor to make something with it. Realistically, any Super 8 meant silent. I was willing to let it go that one family might have one, but two families? Now Way!


An Econimic Weltanschauung

Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern EconomicsKeynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics by Nicholas Wapshott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very readable introduction to Keynes and Hayek. I think it is actually more a book of the effects of the two than even an economics 101 view on their actual thoughts. so I m sure that economic geeks bemoan the simplifications of both economist. You get enough to get a feel of the economics and I'm cool with that especially since I think I end up with more knowledge of what is involved than most people who thow their names around.

My condensation of this condensed fare is that there is more to Keynes's economics than portrayed by conservatives and while Hayeks Road to Serfdom may fit in nicely with Glenn Beck's paranoid world view, Hayek was not really at ease with what grew into the conservative movement, although he definitely wanted to privatize most every public service. Strangely the only exception was public health care which is the one area I wish the author would have explained a bit more.

The last few chapters seem a little episodic with tidbits about Kennedy acting as a supply sider and aside from his conservative talk Reagen is revealed to be quite a Keynesian when you factor in the huge unfunded defense spending spree.

All in all Keynes comes across as more complex and apparently he was often drasticly refining and redefining his ideas, while Hayek was pretty well set in his views from the start. Of course as he aged he became more intense with things like when he laments the tyranny of the majority and states the the free market is the only true participatory democracy. Also I think the modern libertarian/conservative movement has adopted Hayeks suggestion below.

“The main lesson which the true liberal (libertarian) must learn from the success of the socialist is that it was their courage to be Utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and thereby an influence on public opinion” --- “...(of his views) you can say it almost a religious belief ...that the market is almost God ordained”.

This explains why it is so hard to discuss economics with some conservatives, if you ask them to question some of their premises they feel you are attacking their religion. View all my reviews


manifest one true nature when you see a stone; or 無

On my way to Aikido class last night I happened to be listening to a podcast from Living Zen where the teacher was talking about Case 1 form the Mumonkon. The Koan MU.

Here are a few excerpts from Living Zen-podcast Zen talks but Eshu Martin, abbot of the Victoria Zen Center in Victoria, BC Canada

Whenever we throw up a barrier that makes it "me" and "that", "inside" and "outside", "me" and "them", whenever we have solidified something and said this is what I like, what I am, the practice of mu is to burn it. Open your hand and just let that solid object flow.

Maintaining the presence of this case (mu) is a really difficult thing. But it requires we take this practice out of the Zendo into our day to day lives. Into the way we are eating breakfast the way we are doing our work. Really developing the awareness of when we grab on , when we throw up the barrier whenever we polarize, objectify, make solid anything. This is where we have to do this practice of “mu”, where we pull down the wall, open our hand, allow that solid object to flow. We step forward into the difficult situation we want to be a part of

What struck me was the part where we “step forward into the difficult situation we want to be part of” which so reminded me of Irimi Nage or Entering Throw. All the Aikido techniques are hard for me but Irimi seems particularly elusive. I heard one explanation that said something like you enter uke's attack and turn an blend into it, almost in a loving embrace

The podcast also re framed the famous koan MU to say

how do you manifest one true nature when you see a stone?

How do we acknowledge on an experiential level how do we affirm oneness?

We are (incorrectly) making mu into an object. It is a simple practice and it actually helps to be soft as we practice it. The practice of dissolution it is not a practice of punching It is not a plus activity it is actually a minus activity. We do the plus activity with ourselves, we fixate and oppose what we come up against. The practice of Mu is to catch it when we put something into a box and let it go. This is a practice of Melting

It reminded of Sensei talking about how Aikido is a reactive art, we shouldn't meet force with force, although ironically last night he told us to be the dominant part of the technique, not forceful but somehow dominant. Oh well, go figure.
The character 無 in seal script


Man's Search for MeaningMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor Emil Frankl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first read this almost 30 years ago and I remember being impressed at the time. This time it was still engaging and the camp stories are amazing and the second half with the description of logotheraphy was interesting and bears consideration, but after all that I am not sure how he expects everybody to realize their self transcendence.

He does give an outline to find meaning in 3 possible ways

1.creating a work or doing a deed
2.by experiencing something or encountering someone
3.by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering

And from that, meaning naturally comes, not as the goal but as a byproduct. OK, sure, but there still seems to be something missing. Of course this was just an introduction but some of the examples seemed to just be finding clever mind tricks to accept the current situation as meaningful.

Maybe this quote hos the key, but I can't seems to figure out what it means.

"What is demanded of man is not to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms, logos is deeper than logic".

Still, well worth reading

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A Night at the Symphony

I didn't know I liked DVOŘÁK so much! Plus it was a treat to watch the organist dance around the pedals

The picture was taken BEFORE they told us we couldn't take pictures so I just got in under the wire.

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
Marin Alsop, conductor
Mary Preston, organ
BARBER Toccata Festiva
ROUSE Concerto for String Orchestra
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9, From the New World

Finding A New Path

Last night Sensei wanted us to realize that Aikido should be approached from different angles. Meaning we shouldn't try to force our idea of a technique on an attack, rather when we sense resistance the idea is to change your approach. So much of the night we worked on feeling the force of the attack. Then he went on about changing out responses to attacks and how it was like Neuroplasticity. Or something like that.

The start of the process is to recognize what is happening in the attack and NOT respond in kind but find a different path (like the brain making new response paths in the brain). Here he used the example of how people shake your hand when meeting you. You can learn a lot from the energy in the handshake about how you will need to interact with them. Will they be aggressive or overly sensitive, and stuff like that.

The thing is we are wired to fight force with force, it is the most obvious way to respond. If somebody pushes you we thing the most logical thing is to push back. He wanted us to realize that part of the essence of Aikdo is that like Neuroplasticity, it means changing ways of thinking and doing (my paraphrase).

Along those lines in Sensei's closing remarks, the gem he gave us was that the very notion of an attack should be dealt with by changing your perspective.(letting your brain find a new path), meaning if you accept an attack as an “attack” we are wired to respond in kind. But if you accept the attack as a gift. The more force it has, the more you are given to work with, and in a kinder world you lovingly redirect him to neutrality. Then went on to say this is a way to view social conflict away from the dojo.

I really like the notion, but of course I think there some Aikido-ists that accept the “gift” but then use their new found weakness and apply their own violent attack.


End of the World!! Averted!!

The Last Days of Madame Rey: A Stephan Raszer InvestigationThe Last Days of Madame Rey: A Stephan Raszer Investigation by A.W. Hill

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found a blog with this quote from the book and it grabbed me enough that I checked it out of the library on the way home that night.

"And what had the books taught him? There was this: something had gone wrong. Eons ago-not just in “real time” but in the clockwork of the human soul. Something violent and sacred. It could rightly be thought of as a crime, and though it was recounted in all the myths of our species, it was yet the best-kept secret in the Universe."

I enjoyed it. It was a pleasant read with enough at each step to make be want to find out what happen next. But the secret of the Universe was kind of a let down. There is also a thread about ancient people having tails and the genetic descendants of these more perfect predecessors can be identified by examining their tailbone. Odd, and I am a little unclear where us normal people fit into the cosmic battle Raszer get involved with.

And who are the bad guys in this book?

"I think what we’re looking at is a private international strike force... an Armageddon scenario bankrolled by the world’s most lethal venture capitalists."

Now THAT is bad.

Throw in a sex scene and some light but happy drug use and you’ve got yourself a story.

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An Examined Life

A few years ago (may 7 or 8 or even 10 years) I read some wacky collection of liberal Catholic sermons where one homily quoted a Life Magazine article about a small town in Ohio that swarmed to the countryside to flush out foxes and then they beat them to death.

Anyway it sounded so outrageous that I tried to track down the article. Way back then the Internet didn't help at all. Yahoo failed me! So I found the nearest library with Life Magazine on microfiche since the only clue I had from the sermon was that it was Life magazine in the 1940's.

I went to the Richardson, TX Public library and opened the appropriate Readers Guide an tracked it down. I paid my dollar or so to print it out and the afternoon was complete.

BUT, I neglected to print or write down the date of that issue and I've always wondered if I should go back to the library and find it again. But I never did.

Then, this morning I was looking for something that I don't remember and landed on Google Books and saw a link for Life Magazines. It turns out Google Books has most of Life magazine digitized and within a few minutes I found the issue I spent an afternoon investigating years earlier.

Of course I had to spend the next hour or more tracking down ways to hack Google Books so that I could download my find. It is harder than I would have thought, and Google won't let you print all the great stuff.

My point is that, Wow, all I had in school all I had for reports was the World Book Encyclopedia. But now that I think about it I could have gone to the library if I had put out some effort. As with most things, I had better student study habits AFTER I was out of school.

And for today's bonus here is an ad from 1944, and I have no idea what it means.

FYI, the issue in question was 13 MAR 1944


An Attack on the unthinking beliefs of thinking people

Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other AnimalsStraw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals by John Gray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is "an attack on the unthinking beliefs of thinking people".

I gather he intends it not to be a well laid out logical presentation of how Humanists, liberal humanism and the idea of progress,have it all wrong. But instead is a collection of witty observations from a philosophical Oscar Wilde. And many of them really are clever and disarming and probably a few are even true.

My only problem is that he has no problem painting the subject he is skewering in it's most unreasonable light. That and the fact that he has quotes but no attribution. (there is an full “recommended reading” section at the which we can only assume references all the quotes he had). Plus he never really says who these humanists are. Maybe if I was around upper crust academia I would know who these humanists are that have some an idealize view of the perfectibility of man. But I'm not so I don't know anybody who things humans are on the road to perfection by virtue of their positivistic approach to life. And from my casual fascination with protestant super religious types I really think he misses the point on their world view. He implies they are somehow at war with science, but actually they claim it as their own and accept all the technology with joy but deny anything that might intrude on their personal bibilcal stores. In fact they believe science proves the literal bible rather than challenges it. They may be crazy but that is what they believe.

It was refreshing to see him discount Kant an Heidegger with only a few paragraphs on each. I guess I don't have to worry about feeling bad that I never read that stuff. But he also dispatched any mystical religious figures with only a few sentences which saddened me a bit.

I guess my takeaway form the book is that any idea of progress is bunk and the more we accept that we really are machines, the less stressed out we will be. All in all I'm glad I read it and I may even read it again sometime soon .

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Paying For It

Paying for ItPaying for It by Chester Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting but passionless graphic memoir about being a “John”. Given his declaration of the failure of romantic love (at lease for him) I suppose it is natural that this who story is passionless. Chester Brown is a very analytical kind of guy, even when dealing with his...well, with his penis. Even at the end where he admits having feelings for and being (at least on his part) monogamous with a prostitute it is very thought out and clearly decided upon. I suspect, but don't know, that he is a libertarian of the Randian ilk since his thinking is what I think an “Objectivist” is like.

But there is really only one part that directly points to a libertarian world view , where he is discussing with Seth the morality of prostitution and mad thought balloons erupt over Chester's head as Seth presents some straw man argument against prostitution. Up to that time the graphically presented conversations for and against paying for sex were at a personal level and seemed more honest. I get it, you have to put up with your “liberal” friends and their faulty thinking.

So, I liked it. But 200 and some pages of very controlled drawings about how you came to know and use hookers is a strain. He is a different type of cartoonist (I hope he doesn't mind the term). I think of comic books, graphic novels and such as a medium of some exaggeration but with Brown it is the reverse. So maybe it is just me rebelling against what I see as going against the whole reason for telling stories in a ”comic book” format. I think all the frames are the same and the margins are so big it makes the graphic flow seem all the more distant. And the type is so small I feel like reading with a magnifying glass, although that might be because my eyesight is growing worse.

Thinking about the book I feel the visual story telling is better than I first thought, probably since the feel of the book is so analytical that you might miss that it is graphically told.

The thing is, I heard him interviewed and he told of as a teenager wanting to drawing superhero comics which I see as very expressive and often over top or even “cartoon-ish” in their expression. But this book has the feel of a an emotional star collapsing in on itself with all emotion and passion becoming more and more compressed and restrained. Then there are all the hand lettered footnotes about prostitution which I skipped. The felt like it was just him trying to justify his views and actions, but why bundle that with a bunch of drawings. But, that is just me.

Just after this I read Stitches by David Smalls, which is a wildly different book (review to follow) but I felt like he really used drawings as an integral part of the story telling. But, still..read this book.

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A Graphic Contract

The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue (A Contract With God, A Life Force, Dropsie Avenue)The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue by Will Eisner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally got around to reading Contract With God and the rest of the trilogy. Often named as a milestone in the development of the graphic novel, I found the title book to be the weakest. Contract With God seems to me a little forced. Would anybody really think a contract you write yourself would get a binding result from God. Eisner full all of the books with Jewish flavor which I probably shouldn't comment on. BUT, I kind of thought Jewish history was filled with God's people having unfair experiences in their lives. Why should this one guy feel he is different? And the other stories in the first book also seemed a little too simplistic.

The other two books A Life Force and Dropsie Avenue are less stilted and overall they are more complex. The stories and the characters have much more depth.

The graphic part of the book is...well, maybe it is perfect. Not that the drawings are anatomically perfect (although I can't say) but the cinematography, or whatever you call it in graphic novels, is conventional where it needs to be, and inventive is the same sense. But it never takes away from the story, which the the “perfect” part I was talking about.

I've always had a “problem” with Eisner's drawing. It looks so relaxed, as if he just dashed it off, much like the scene in Amadeus where Salieri realizes Mozart never has to rewrite the music he puts to paper. Perhaps Eisner slaved meticulously over each frame, but it always looks so fluid it burns me up that anybody can pull it off.

The only thing that distracted me in Neighborhood, The: Dropsie Avenue is that in the entire history of the neighborhood there is no example of gentrification as we think of it now. But still a very nice work.

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I Jump Into 2nd Kyu

I took the 2nd Kyu test today, and I have the video from my trusty “bloggie” to prove it. Sensei said I and the 3rd Kyu first act passed. I think Sensei didn't drag the test out too long since he has seen me practicing before class for the past few weeks and I was doing all the techniques listed. So he must have cut me some slack.

But, when you do something like this you want to have it all down rock solid. If I really wanted that, I suppose I could have waited until some later date. But I kind of like the feeling of diving in whether you are ready or not and hope you rise to the occasion. Using an old photo developing analogy...After watching as much of my test as I could (who was the fat old guy wearing my gi?) I can say although I didn't shine, I managed a fine no gloss finish with only a few scratches on the final product. Then again I have never been a perfectionist and others were quite harsh on the quality of those old one hour photo developing places. But enough about developing film, that is so 20th century.

One aspect of the practice that I find fascinating is just the psychology of taking a test. Yes, I want to be good at Aikido and do well on these tests, but actually I think I savor this feeling of being in over my head. Where is the glory in taking a test if you are kick-ass already? And I am almost always in over my head. It is not self modesty when I say I am really not very good at Aikido. I see and feel my clunky clumsiness and after 5 years I kind of doubt I will smooth out a many of these rough edges. But it kind of doesn't matter.

For me the Aikido practice is about something other than being a Aikdo master. I will genuinely try to always improve but I am not in it to show all the cool stuff I can do. I am there to participate. Participate in the experience, in the techniques as Uke and Nage and feeling the “magic” of those times you say “What the hell just happened? That was cool!”. And test taking is just another experience you get to take part in.
The sensation of sitting there just before the test starts...it is like jumping out of an airplane, which I have only done once but I think it is somewhat appropriate to compare these things. BUT the dojo is a pretty safe environment where the worst that can happen is you fail the test and try again some other time.

That said, I have to admit that if I want to take the next test and certainly the shodan test (black belt), I really do need to nail down the specifics on all these techniques. To the point it won't matter if my mind goes blank when Sensei calls the technique, like what happened this morning. And I automatically remember those basic details like going lower for koshi nage on somebody my height or shorter. Sooooo....there is tons more work to do and I'll keep at it, but if it takes me another 5 years to feel ready for shodan test I'll almost be 60 years old. And even if 60 is the new 50, it sounds old to me.

The video is somewhat similar to my one skydive jump way back in 1980, except I had a static line and no jump-suit and helmet. I wore my standard gear of the time, jeans, red wing boots, t-shirt and a jeans jacket.

As I remember it, all the thrill was the anticipation and stepping out and holding onto the wing strut. The descent itself was a little anti-climatic, well except for the last 5 seconds before I hit the ground.


What Was My Point??

I ran through most of the standing techniques for the 2nd kyu test this morning before class. I most had the mechanics of down but getting them to actually work work is still out of reach, At this point I kinda want to take the test as an example that you don't always pass the test. Or if I pass I will be an inspiration to chubby middle aged men.

Perhaps intending to help me out Sensei had us work on on t of the techniques for my test , shomenuchi shiho-nage and later shomenuchi nikkyo.

Ok, I can't seem to find the point of this post,,,so the above is just another Christian Tissier video,


Subliminal Message Not Needed

As we prepared to leave Aikido tonight (great class, Shawn did wonderfully) I couldn't help but notice that Bibliosk8 was even more slim and trim. He talked about his no or low carb diet and how well it worked. And the moment he said he cut out pasta and bread my mind imagined it and it tasted soooo... great in my mind's mouth.

I must be a marketers dream. No need for clever advertising, just say the thing I like in any context and I want it.

And driving home I kept thinking some Pinot Grigio would be really nice with the bread and pasta. I threw in some quickly roasted Asparagus as a nod to my healthy fellow Aikidoka.

OK, tomorrow, or next week, THEN I will get on my custom diet I developed last year which is basically a no carb, no beer or wine, week long diet and do whatever you want on the weekend. which actually matches Bibliosk8's version except I leave out the meat.

But then again, there is some stressful stuff going on and I seem to seek solace food an drink. We will see.


Newton Goes to the Big City

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest ScientistNewton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist by Thomas Levenson

Who knew that Newton spent the last 25 years away from Cambridge and a good portion of that time he was “Master of the Mint” and in charge of overseeing the production and security of England’s money supply.

The author does a nice job making reasonable speculations on why Newton's previous pursuits prepared him to be an ideal candidate for fixing England’s coinage problems. I particularly liked the notion that Newton was not unaware that his discoveries about the nature of the universe might lead some away for belief in God, and that was why he spent decades secretly investigating Alchemy. Somehow he got the notion that Alchemy would prove the existence of God and that fueled his determination to crack the alchemy puzzle. As we all know now that whole turning base metal in to Gold didn't take off so well.

In any case he was as rigorous an alchemist as he was in his other more traditional scientific pursuits. And since he was forced to hide his alchemy studies he had to do most of the mundane tasks like melting different metals for himself. This was just the sort of knowledge that would come in handy when he is in charge of re-minting ALL of England’s coins.

It tuns out the coin minting standards of the day enabled industrious counterfeiters to have a pretty good time. The job of overseeing coining was determined by contacts and not competence and it seems if a crook was smart enough to figure out how to copy coins they often managed to talk their way out of the gallows (counterfeiting was a capital offense)

After Newton got the job I it must have been a sight to see a con man trying to bamboozle with faux complexity the man who created Calculus. And the idea of one of the smartest men in history turned into detective on the scent of villains is inherently fascinating

Anyway, an interesting story with believable insights about a brilliant man who died almost 300 years ago.

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With Aikido you get more Bubbles!

One thing we worked on tonight was two responses to shomen-uchi (overhead strike to the head). The first was just getting off line and the obvious next step is kote gaishi which is what we went on to do. BUT after that Sensei had us work on if uke had some more force and you couldn't apply the technique. Then Nage was supposed to go with it and turn it into Kaiten Nage.

In the “teisho” after class he used the example of an apple to say that the same thing means something different depending on your view. To a hungry man the apple is food but to an artist (I guess the artist had already eaten) it was shape, shades and colors. And Aikido really means you look at any situation as something with many different alternatives so you are not locked into any technique. Aikido is about "Options"

He went on to say something like with aikido two different people can look at the same thing and think completely different things and what he saw might not be what you saw. And at some point he declared something like “Aikido gives you more bubbles”.

He talked about a cartoon where two people are seeing the same thing but you can tell visually that they are thinking in completely different ways. In the business they call them thought balloons, but there is something so charming about calling them Bubbles. Like a refreshing sparking glass of champagne

A teisho is a formal presentation of dharma by a Zen master, usually during a sesshin. A teisho may appear to be a lecture, but the master is not trying to convey concepts or knowledge. Instead, through the teisho the master presents his or her realization.


Koshi Nage Tech

I missed almost a week of practice for various reasons so I had some trepidation about today's class. But all was well. A small but good class and Sensei was teaching. He asked again about me taking my 2nd kyu test and while I confessed that I had missed some classes lately he didn't seem too concerned. I told him I was struggling with Koshi nage from Kubishime and he offered some suggestions.

Interestingly what he suggested, while not contradictory, to what Shawn showed me, was still completely different. Shawn was full of details about hand movement and foot and hip placement. But Sensei focused on general approach and feeling the point of contact. Later he had some more specific points but overall he emphasized “feeling” that point where uke rests on the right part of your hip.

After class Pawel help me practice and and at some point I seemed ot combine Shawn's obvious point of lowering my body to get under uke's center with Sensei's adjuration to “feel” where uke should be. Strangely as soon as I felt I was getting it right, Sensei saw me and said I should not worry about being low. I think he meant that after I “loaded up” uke I need to straighten one leg to prepare for the throw. I think.

But it is things like that, that make Aikido interesting. There are a thousand variables in most any technique and you have to take the wisdom from whatever source you find and try to fit it to your abilities, body type and personality. You have to find the correct form for you, that somehow stays true to the essence. I think for some gifted individuals it is not that big of a deal. They see what the teacher is saying. Do it, feel it and work on it. But for klutzes like me you have to work against yourself. Undo decades of non aikido movements and relax the mind so you can then “get it”. But “getting it” for me is really hard.

Thinking about it after class, I was again reminded about this video I saw when I prepared to change the tires on my motorcycle. If you search the forums you will find many seasoned cyclists complaining about how hard it is to change the tire of an off road or dual sport motorcycle.

The video was from a professional support person that had to regularly change tires. In his video he said...

If it's difficult you are doing something wrong....If you're struggling with it , it's all technique...there's no trick to it. ….If you are struggling, possibly you need to find a different technique.

An that was today. I felt it when I manged to recognize my technique was off. Changed something and it was better..for me it is always the small victories I savor, as those are the only I can find.

And just to remind myself, here are some links to 2nd Kyu tests on You Tube






Sculpture In Motion

My niece was in town today and we went to the SMU Meadows Art Museum. Here is was was outside the building.


How to Get Too Many Books For Your Bookshelf

Last night I watched HOWL with James Franco as Allen Ginsberg. It may have been the mood I was in or maybe the wine, but I though it was great. While I know a little about that era (OK, I've really only read On The Road by Jack Kerouac) I have never paid much attention to Ginsberg or his famous poem other than recognizing it when parodied by Lisa Simpson.

But after Aikido I stopped by Half Price Books in Richardson (TX) and found a book with a facimile of the original poem that was depicted in the movie I saw. It is really cool and has tons of notes. AND I found what looks to be a good (and long) biography of Ginsberg.

My point is that it the movie gave the feel of what they might have been striving for at at that time. An earnestness, a truthfulness that is usually avoided or denied. Or maybe they were trying so hard to articulate this "truth" because there were not really sure that it was really there at all. Or not, or something completely different. Different but still....

For Carl Solomon

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night......

How Low Can I Go?

Today was a small class (too many people away for the July 4th holiday I guess) and fortunately for me there was nobody else asking Shaun's advice before class so I got detailed instruction on applying Koshi nage. Plus Bibliosk8 brought his camera and tripod and recorded the session. Which I am eagerly waiting to be posted so I can download it and really see what I need to work on.

I remember blogging about koshi nage 4 or 5 years ago and I still don't have it figured out. I seem to manage one type but any variation and it is hit or miss whether I am really doing it right. I THINK I made real progress today when I finally felt how low I needed to go but still for one technique there are a million things that can go wrong.

I bet for somebody who “feels it”, they wouldn't understand what the problem is. But that is one of the things about Aikido. When you feel a technique it is obvious, and why would anybody do it differently since it wouldn't work? BUT, until you internalize it all those instructions are just a thousand little details you try to juggle in your head while you move your body. The thing is, usually you can fake it, especially with an agreeable uke that knows what the outcome is supposed to be. But with Koshi nage you can seriously hurt your back if you try to force it when you really aren't in quite the right position.

Anyway. There are a few koshi nage techniques on the 2nd kyu test so it was great to get some specialize attention. And Shaun is great at trying to figure out what you are don't wrong rather than just saying how to do it right.

Also, props to Biblisosk8 (Bob) for stepping up to the plate and teaching the kid's class. Once I knew Mark was there for support I bolted.


Yet Another New Day

I missed the last two mornings but here is today's White Rock Lake Morning picture

And the below is just a picture I found on the camera


Another Morning and Another Bike Ride

Day 2 of my impromptu exercise regimen and here are some of the sights from today's ride

And now a short Video


Morning Glory

In my attempt to be less of a a plump middle aged man who is easily winded, I got out of bed and rode a leisurely ride around the lake.


What I Learned This Week

Not Much

I did learn how to play around with my home network. I bought a fairly cheap wireless IP camera and figured out how to get it on my home network, configure my router with the appropriate port forwarding settings to allow access from the Internet. And how to use a free Dynamic DNS company that works with my router to allow me to buy a domain name for $6 a year (two year contract) so that as long as I have the camera on I can spy on my cats.

But the thing I really learned was that my cats don't do much of anything when I am gone.

Using the above pic as the reference this is what I learned

  1. 9:00 AM laying down looking out the window

  2. 11:00 AM laying down sleeping

  3. Noon laying down sleeping(?) on a cardboard scratching toy

  4. 2:30 PM laying down in a box looking out the window

  5. 5:30 PM Still in the box

There's No Times Like the End Times!!

The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple MountThe End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount by Gershom Gorenberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For a modest book it packed such an army of characters in the 250 pages that I have trouble remembering who was who. The book mostly talks about the Temple Mount / Dome of the Rock as the focal point for extreme religious energy.

In the U.S. You can get an earful of millennialism (pre-mil usually) just by scanning “Christian” tv, but I gather there is a strong current of Messianic thought in Israel which is just as intense if not more so than the Christian version. AND it turns out a there is a growing branch of this kind of stuff in Islam, which strangely has gained popularity only recently and seems to unknowingly pick up the same structure as Christian End Times enthusiasts.

Interestingly (but obviously if you think about it) each side sees the others as being the crazy ones. And it is a given for every evangelical view that the Mosque on top of the Temple Mount is a sacrilege, the Muslims feel the same about any encroachment on their holy site. But all three believe a final battle will come and God will clear away the other guys.

It is a triangle of zealotry with each side thinking in the end only they will be left standing.

My one sentence synopsis is...
“This book shows there is not shortage of crazies, be they Jewish, Muslim or Christian and if any of them get worked up enough they have no problem with all the other “non-believers” being blown away, either with guns or by God.”

Here are just a few quotes from a few of the pages I dog-eared.

By the time we get to Hal Lindsey deciphering those names in 1970 as referring ot Russia and the "Iron Curtain countries," who will invade Israel and might be destroyed by nuclear weapons, we have reason to wonder what is literal about the reading. The man who says, "I had those who read their ideas into the scripture by using allegory," seems as capable as any allegorist of reading what he wants into scripture. 245

A parable from the Jewish mystical tradition known as hasidism: A man was once walking through a forest at niht and came to a house . Looking through the window, he saw people flinging their arms and legs about in grotesque motions. How awful, he thought, they're having seizures, they must ball have a terrible illness, or perhaps they're mad. But the man outside the window didn't hear the singing inside, and didn't know they were dancing. If you don't hear the the music of faith, says the story, you'll see the dance as disease. To take the point further, if you don't pay attention to the particular song being sung, you may notice only "seizures"_ and not which dance you're see out of the many possible. 236

Beneath the sci-fi veneer, for instance, the Heavan's Gate dream of ascent to heaven looked a lot like the Rapture...

..(they) had been making apocalyptic predictions for years. They couldn't sustain expectation forever, so they had to take irrevocable action.”This is the ultimate dogmatism: Any price is worth paying save the price of admitting that the Idea was wrong. 227

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Update From Goodreads

Franny and ZooeyFranny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off, I'm sure loads of people have read and reread this book or just know all about it from other references. But it was all new to me so it really took me by surprise.

This was recommend by a friend who was reading it for a church book club. I knew nothing about the book and very little about Salinger, but I checked it out of the Library just to take a look. I was warned the way of the pilgrim and the Jesus Prayer figured in but that was all of my preview.

I found the 40 page Franny section shockingly readable. It conveyed complex notions and subtle ideas in a very engaging narrative. Big ideas, deep emotions all in a weekend outing to see a college football game. I rate it wonderful!

The rest of the book, the Zooey section, was best when it referenced the first part and the other bits seemed to pack in a bunch of exposition or explanation or eduction or some other thing that I don't know the word for it. Don't get the wrong impression that I didn't care for it, I really liked it but I REALLY, REALLY liked the way the Franny part told the story.

I'm sure this is a goldmine of literary nuggets for students to write papers about, and I'm sure glad I can just relax and not worry about such things. I found a lecture online about this book and listening to it makes me a bit queasy.

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A Quiet New Beginning or Did Johnny Cash Have A Bucket List?

A quiet birthday and noting I am at 4 years of blogging. No bucket list this time, although I can think of things I'd like to do, but no lists.

Alone after work just some bread, goat cheese, tomatoes and olive oil, all with some Sicilian wine. Then I watched The Man Who Wasn't There . After that, surf the net while listening to Beethoven piano sonatas (prompted by a plot point in the movie)

In once sense the movie is cliched, like Stewie on Family talkng to Brian about writing his novel

How you uh, how you comin' on that novel you're working on? Huh?
Gotta a big, uh, big stack of papers there? Gotta, gotta nice litte story you're working on there? Your big novel you've been working on for 3 years? Huh?
Gotta, gotta compelling protaganist? Yeah?
Gotta obstacle for him to overcome? Huh?
Gotta story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh?...
Been working on that the whole time? Nice little narrative?
Beginning, middle, and end?
Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends?
At the end your main character is richer from the experience?
Yeah? Yeah?

OK not that cliched...but still after the early character setup you could kinda see how it would end, at least emotionally...however it all works,

The thing is...is it a sad ending? Or is the peace he feels at the end a validation of his life? Maybe that is the way we will all be at the end, an uncertain matter of debate.

I've been listening to A Bridge Over Troubled Waters, this past week and I just found this Johnny Cash version of the Title song which I think was recorded with Fiona Apple the year before he died. And he sounds like its near the end. Powerful, but near the end.

Did Johnny Cash Have A Bucket List?



I don't know if Sensei has a structured lesson plan but in last night's closing talk he followed up on last Wednesday's session. Except this time instead of talking about deception he emphasized taking away the attacker's strength. Maybe better to say something like “diffusing” the attacker's power (my paraphrasing).

As an example he talked about a TV show that measured the strength of various martial arts kicks to see which was the most powerful. Apparently it is the kick where both legs are off the ground that is the weakest because usually power from the ground up through the body when the attacker has a good position.

Our goal in Aikido is to disrupt that connection. If somebody is pushing against you, don't meet force with force, but absorb just a little and then move out of that power center.

Sensei will try any analogy he can to get the message across, and last night he used the example of a herd of some type of wild cattle surrounded by lions. The lions know they can't charge in because they would be gored by all the deadly horns pointed at them. The lions must somehow tease out the weakest victim and he said we must do the same thing but taking the weakest part of the attack and guiding it away from the power center.

Usually the analogies involve softness and grace and not an attacking pride of lions, but I got his point.

I actually found a video of lions doing just what he described, but it is two hard to watch. Plus after the lions get the calf a crocodile almost takes it away from them by force. And then amazingly the crowd of buffalo get the calf back (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM)

On another note, sensei told me to start preparing for my 2nd Kyu test. I guess I will plunge ahead but I still feel like such be a beginner

Shomenuchi shihonage
Shomenuchi kaitennage
Yokomenuchi gokyo
Ushiro tekubitori shihonage
Ushiro tekubitori jujinage
Ushiro kubishime koshinage
*Ushiro Kubishime Shihonage (Omote & Ura)
*Ushiro Kubishime Sankyo (O & U - both hands)
*Ushiro Kubishime Jujinage
*Ushiro Ryokatatori Iriminage
*Ushiro Ryokatatori Kokyunage (3 ways)
1.  ____________
2.  ____________
3.  ____________
*Ushiro Ryotetori Kokyunage (3 ways)
1.  ____________
2.  ____________
3.  ____________
Morotetori nikkyo
*Morotetori Kokyunage (3 ways)
1.  ____________
2.  ____________
3.  ____________
*Morotetori Shihonage (O & U; both hands)
*Morotetori Koshinage (2 ways)
1.  ____________
2.  ____________
*Jujinage (3 ways)
1.  ____________
2.  ____________
3.  ____________
·    Shomenuchi iriminage
·    *Shomenuchi Kotegaeshi
·    *Shomenuchi Sankyo (Omote & Ura)
·    Katatetori nikkyo
·    Yokomenuchi kotegaeshi
·    *Yokomenuchi Shihonage (Omote & Ura)
·    *Yokomenuchi Kaitenage (Omote & Ura)
·    *Katatetori Sumiotoshi (Omote & Ura)
·    *Katatetori Kokyunage (2 ways)


Run Rabbit Run

I am testing my old Video Camera (Sony DCR-HC40) that is around 6 years old, so I took it with me on my ride around the lake after work today. Previously I had problem with the automatic exposure but today it worked out OK. It is just that any less than 1080p seems so 20th Century.

But this camera has a much better lens I think and the stabilization if good compared to my Sony "bloggie"


Aikido: The Art of Deception

After almost 2 months away I made it back to Aikido tonight, and boy am I tired. There are other dojos that keep a more vigorous pace during practice, but in any case for a plump middle aged man like me tonight was a whipping. A good time but still I am pooped.

Anyway I don't know if it was because I was away for 2 months or one of my recurring confusions. We were working on shiho nage from yokomenuchi (strike to the head from the side) and it was like I had never done it before.

But in an effort to explain things Sensei tried to explain how you can use a little trick to get the attacker (uke) off balance. As soon as Uke starts to raise his arm to strike, you extend your leading arm toward him. But not to block or atemi, rather as distraction that tuns into a “hook”. Just by dangling your hand in front of the attack you throw off the attack calculation of the attacker. Then you use you arm as a buffer to the coming force to retract a bit as your body moves back a bit to absorb the attack.

Then once you have his balance you apply shihonage (see above), BUT you do the technique with little to no force as you move uke's arm up high enough to step through. So that he doesn't know what you are doing until you are on the other side of his arm and can finish with some extension and bingo he is on the ground.

These two component demand that you feel what you are doing and what uke is doing, so that there is no resistance at any point.

In sensei's closing remarks he opened with something like “Aikido is the art of deception!”

He speculated that it is natural in any conflict for a forceful attack to expect forceful resistance. You as nage must present the target but at the right moment you move the target and actually Uke is deceived because all the stuff he was expecting was not there. And when he demonstrated it on us it was like magic. One of those times you say “What just happened” as you are laying on the floor.


Coffee Shop People Sketch

I tried to secretly sketch a few people at the coffee shop. It is dang hard when you are just a few feet from them. The big guy was buying coffee and was wearing green / gray camouflage and so I just put down a bunch of squiggly lines to indicate that.

I could have got to Aikido but I think I was actually a bit scared since it has been almost 2 months since I was last there.


Tuesday at White Rock Lake

My first exercise in a month and a half.

It felt Ok. I am may go to Aikido tomorrow.


A New Look at TV

For some reason the view of the far wall looked interesting to me so I grabbed the pens and drawing pad.

Not much to say, just here is the TV



Maybe back to Aikido next week!!


The greatest thing....you'll ever learn...

The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
and be loved
In return


Fixing Windows - More things to do when not at Aikido

Note to self: Because I keep playing around with different Linux partitions I need to remember that getting back to a Windows7 only boot up, use the Windows7 DVD and boot to DVD choose Repair Computer and then use

bootrec /fixmbr

All the stuff on the web about bootsect and all its choices, do me no good.


Look But Don't Draw

I was off work yesterday and with a little free time I thought I would play an artist and take my sketch book to a scenic spot and get my drawing on. But for no good reason I was in a foul mood and went out with an emotional cloud hanging over me.

I discovered something about myself and maybe the act of drawing itself. If what I am looking at doesn't call to me to be drawn I can barely get up enough energy to lift the pen. I am sure there are professional and amateur illustrators that can simply look or imagine something and dutifully and competently and maybe even beautifully put it on paper. I am not of that sort.

I suppose it is like anything else that requires your own participation, music, working in the yard, reading a book and even sometimes watching TV, if I don't feel compelled to eagerly make the effort I just won't. For me at least the trick is to find a point of view for the task at hand that makes me really want to do it.

For instance, while in High School I was a pretty lackluster student, but 20 30 years later when I took some classes those previous boring subjects grabbed my attention. I certainly wasn't any smarter and was just a few classes but I was taking them because something intrigued me about the subjects.

Anyway, even though I might look at something and know it was the kind of thing I should want to draw, if I an not “in the mood” I end up packing it in and heading home. I also suspect it comes from my belief that for me, drawing is really “looking” and if I am not truly motivated to “look” the following parts of the process fall apart.

Sooooo...I went home, got some lunch with some wine, put some music on (Pomplamoose, thank you very much!) and quietly alternated between reading and looking out the window.

You can see what I saw and hear what I heard by looking at the video above.

Somebody once told me there was some tribal language that had a separate word for looking at a fire, as one does when sitting around a campfire. Well, I think somewhere there must be a special word for simply watching bamboo being rocked to and fro by the wind.

The bamboo was compelling but the complexity of all that was happening put me off trying to draw the view. If I can't earnestly draw I can try to earnestly look.


Things To Watch When Not At Aikido

I gather many people know all about Pomplamoose, I just recognized them from the Christmas car commercial.

This really makes we wish I was a musician.

Check out to cool lyrical substitution they made

Don't make me sing this part of the song
The lyrics are so bad
So we're going to skip ahead
To the single ladies part instead

My foot still hurts. This may take longer than I thought


Yin and Yang Cats

I need to get out the house and find something other to draw than cats.


Good-Bye to Sammy

Sammy is now gone. It was a sad Sunday

Sammy, 2002 -2011


Sunday Sketch

Cats can sit still for hours and hours but the moment you start to draw them they get fidgety and jump away.



Inspired by Bibliosk8.net I stopped by Asel Art Supply and bought some pens and and new drawing pad (the pens were pricey but the pad was on sale for $4)

There was some young girl, maybe high school or early college age, asking whom I assume was the manager what to buy. It was great to overhear somebody who obviously loved working in an art supply store and had opinions that somehow manage to never seemed to put anybody down. He was all about finding the right materials "for you!"

I hope to make myself just draw a few "doodles" each day. Nothing serious, just taking the time to look at something. Not so much the result but getting into the act of looking.


from within, myself unseen

Over 10 years ago I stumbled across A Country Calendar by Flora Thompson. It was the kind of thing I used to do...go to the downtown public library and just wander the shelves randomly picking at books. Anyway I read some (maybe all, but I doubt it) of this book and thought it had the most beautiful sentences I had ever read. But this was age before amazon and even after many years of searching I never found it. I did see many copies of her fiction trilogy Lark Rise to Candleford, but for some reason I could never get into it.

Anyway I was reminded of it recently and keeping with this modern age I ordered it online (not amazon, so they didn't win this round). I got it today and know why it stuck in my mind. You can open the book at random and read wonderful phrases, sentences and paragraphs...

This morning, a forgotten milk-can brought me out of bed early. Afterwords, in spite of the rimey tang in the air, I stood at my cottage gate, and was glad of it.


A pair of blue-tits have built between the double wooden walls of the tool-shed here, and I am able to watch them through a knot-hole in the wood from within, myself unseen.


August- It is strange how the counties personify themselves to mind's eye.

Dorset is a dairy maid, all curds and cream and roses. Wiltshire, a princess of the Stone Age, fugitive, aloof. You may tread on her vast spaces and breathe pollen-scented air for a month, and never once catch a glimpse of her; although most ancient of counties she still awaits her poet to interpret her....


upon the fourth of November, three swallows appeared in a sky deserted for the more than a fortnight by the last of their kind. It was a dull morning of east wind and cutting showers, and the shrill cries of the three birds may have been due to cold. Just as probably, they were hunger cries , for a keen wind clears the air of insects even more completely that frost....

It reminded me of another book I half read, The Long Loneliness by Dorthy Day. I never got past the first chapter but this line always stuck with me.

“Children all love to hear stories of when their parents were young, and their parents before them. It gives the child a sense of continuity.”

Both books carry such weight of a lost time. They speak to the best of a different world view, not the provincial or petty or prejudiced past, by where things were close and you were aware. Where the past is part of the present, not an object of study but..I don't know what, but whatever it is...it is gone. Yet you can almost remember them, these thing ring true.

But what child really hungers for stories of their parents and grandparent? That is for a grown child searching Ancestry.com. Maybe I simply want to remember the world that BBC and Masterpiece Theater have always assumed I knew.

A Fractured Tale, not a Funny Fractured Fairy Tale

So...It is not a sprain. I have a fracture and I have to wear a boot for at least 3 weeks. No Aikdo, No bicycle rides, no exercise...just me and couch and the TV.

I hobbled Saturday, Sunday and by Monday I was pretty pathetic sight so I broke down and made a doctor's appointment.

Not much to do really...just wear a boot for few weeks because as ridiculous as I looked with a “boot” clomping around, I looked extremely sad dragging a lame foot about.

Oh yes, one other thing to do, buy some sushi take it home and drink some wine while you eat. And from the way I feel tonight that may be the game plan for the immediate future


It's Always Something!

A few weeks ago I had a problem with an inflammation on my heel which at one point was bad enough I was limping about my business at work. But a week or so later with the help of some pills I was back to normal.

THEN...today while working with somebody before class I was an uke who grabs one wrist and then by running behind the person grabs the other wrist. I felt particularly clumsy this morning but I tried to loosen up and not be such a sack of potatoes. Anyway in one instance I stepped with full force and slammed my toes into the guy's heel. At the time it It hurt a little but we move on.

Well, to get to the point....in the next few minutes I notice it is hurting more and more so that by the time class actually starts I realize I can't do a forward roll on my left side because when I go forward on my left foot I have drop to my knee because it is so painful.

Then after 15 or 20 minutes I actually excused myself and left class early.

With each hour it hurt more and more, but only when I tried to walk. So now at the end of the day I have trouble putting any weight on the foot. I guess it will be OK since only one toes is swollen much and it is the only one that is purple.

Lately it feels like there is always something interfering with my practice. Of course sometimes it is my own laziness but when I finally get the gumption up an make some effort...fate steps in.

I am showing my age but it makes me thing of the quote from Roseanne Roseannadanna back from the early days of Saturday Night Live. Have I turned into the person she was making fun of?

Well, Jane. It just goes to show ya! It's always somethin'! If it's not one thing, it's another! Either you smoke or you have a sweat ball hangin' off your nose! ... or you have a hurt heel or maybe a broken toe!


Weakness Overcame Me

(from Darker Than Black Anime)

I was tired. I was weak....so I just went home after work and missed Aikido Class, i.e. I was a wimp.

But at least I paid homage to Aikido's country of origin...Japan.

I stopped by the local kroger for some freshly prepared sushi and took it home and ate it as I watched Japanese Anime.

Again I am intrigued by the cool way most Anime draws cats


A Sunday Morning Bicycle Ride

I managed a ride on the Dallas Santa Fe Trail this morning. It takes you from White Rock Lake to just outside of Downtown Dallas. A nice and easy ride of maybe 5 miles from the White Rock Spillway to to Downtown. You end up in in an odd part of town for a cyclist and I suppose if I knew downtown or Deep Ellum better I would have know what to do it looks like the trail definitely ends with no expectation of further development, even though the trail itself is very well constructed.

As an aside it is cool to see the remains of the original Dallas Santa Fe Rail Line at the end of the bike trail pavement.


After Work Bike Ride

Unfortunately I couldn't make Aikido class tonight and it was very pleasant cool evening in Dallas and with the time change I took advantage of the daylight after work and I managed to get in a bicycle ride in at White Rock lake. It has been a few months since I've ridden and it was nice to get out.

All in all a nice ride


Blind Faith - Can You find Your Way?

Tonight Mark taught and with every technique we closed our eye as we did them, The instructions were for nage (the one being attacked) but I think we automatically closed our eyes when acting as uke (the attacker)

It was really a nice way to learn, in that I think it made us use a different part of our brain. I may be a cliché but I think we become locked into certain ways of looking at the world (a weltanschauung if you will) and we are subject to those looking at problems and situations from only one perspective. But when you close your eyes, suddenly you information input is radically changed. From that point the story of the moment is told not by what you see but by what you feel.

I think the very act of seeing and reading trigger conditioned ways of thinking and while often they are the most effective, sometimes they might miss the point.. It reminded me of a difference in Protestant “Bible” church service and a Catholic Mass. In the first you bring your Bible and read as the preacher also reads the scripture. But in a Catholic Mass you specifically DONT read as the gospel which is proclaimed. And I really buy the argument that by “listening” to the good word it is a more direct route than reading. Reading might get through to your soul, but listening is like “chugging” the word of GOD but reading is digesting. You need both in different situations but sometimes you need the injection to the heart to seal the deal.

And is that context I propose that by closing your eyes while doing an Aikido technique you might actually figure more out than objectively sorting things out.

Last Saturday we had testing and I helped on a 5th kyu test. Last time I worked with somebody on their 4th kyu and now a 5th. The thing is, I think when you help somebody on their test you really understand that you don't don't “understand” anything. But I guess the takeaway is that it is only by trying to teach aikido (in a small way) that you actually learn it.

On a different topic, don't start a diet or abstain from wine when you are on a Sopranos watching kick. They are always eating pasta an drinking wine. I can't resist, so after Aikido there was a big bowl of pasta and store bought, but good marinara sauce and and nice but cheap bottle of Shiraz. FYI, the shraza was paid for by an old Texas lotto ticket I had in my wallet

Congrats to Biliosk8 on passing his 3rd kyu. His test was way better than mine and maybe we can all work with Mike (who took 3rd kyu in the last test) and figure out 2nd kyu.

I am not really a fan of Blind Faith, but it is always nice to open a blog post with music.


Tongue Tied Dream

I had a dream the other night that I walked out of the house I grew up in and just outside the door was the Zen teacher I saw for 6 or 7 years. He brought a crowd of people with him from Latin America and they smiled at me because they thought I could speak Spanish (and understand them I guess).

But I frantically tried to warn them that I only understood a little. I said

Lo siento, pero hablamos solamente palabras simplice

I was trying to say I only spoke in simple words, except I was horribly tongue tied and struggled to say palabras and it was like my tongue wouldn't work right. And of course in my dream I know simiplice is Italian for simple (or should it have been simplici?) and I was frustrated because I couldn't remember the Spanish word for “simple” but kept saying the Italian word. Which is all more strange since the English and Spanish words are basically the same thing...simple = simple

AND I don't know why I used hablamos (we speak) rather than hablo (I speak)

But the crowd of people with the Zen teacher in the foreground just smiled at me pleasantly and didn't say anything.

So I couldn't say words and could not remember anything simple


The Only Way it Clicks!

The Thin ManThe Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

I always enjoyed the early Thin Man Movies and coming off reading The Maltese Falcon I went straight into Hammett's The Thin Man. I quite like it but in print the constant drinking is a little less charming than in the movie.

A pleasant read and for good and bad it shows it came from a different era. Even if it almost seems Hammett is making a parody of himself.

Prize lines:

Studsy returned alone. “Maybe I'm wrong,” he said as he sat down, “ but I think somebody could do something with that cluck if they took hold of her right.”


After a while she asked: “Is Mamma in love with you?”

“Good God , No! She hates men more than any woman I've ever known who wasn't a Lesbian.”


“Then you're not sure he-”

“Stop saying that. Of course we're sure. That's the only way it clicks.”


“But it seems so loose”

“When murders are committed by mathematicians, “ I said. “you can solve them by mathematics”

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