Friday, October 05, 2007

Don't Knock It Until You Try It...Try It, THEN Knock It

I've gotten a couple of free iTunes music downloads from Starbucks this week...KT Tunstall (One Day...not my favorite song of hers, but GREAT bass line), and this morning...Keith Urban.

Well, not usually a country fan, I decided to give it a try. Can't hurt, right? It's free, anyway.

So...turns out the music isn't THAT bad, but the lyrics are completely banal, and his singing is pretty bad. Not sure how people decide who the popular artists are. I would recommend his band go and create some intrumental albums without Mr. Urban there to fuck up the song for them.

I'll keep this in my library as a reminder to avoid it in the future.

Still not nearly as bad as James Blunt's sad screechy two-note "You're Beautiful" pile of shite that should honestly be considered some kind of war crime. Keeps me from spending all my hard-earned scrilla, though, as I have to avoid shopping for fear of being unwittingly subjected to it.

Maisie in the Cave


Maisie in the Cave
Originally uploaded by jceddy.
So I've been kicking around Ithaca for almost a week, and haven't really taken any pictures...I will try to get some today.

I did run into someone who played hockey with Greg Graffin, which was pretty interesting.

My drive back starts this evening.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Trucks


Trucks
Originally uploaded by jceddy.
After skipping over a bitty strip of Pennsylvania, I stopped in this small town just in side New York where it's all farms. And trucks.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

In Toledo on my way to Ithaca

Well, Maisie and I left this morning on a long drive to Ithaca to visit Buffy (about a 1000 mile drive).

It tooke about 12.5 hours to get here...which was about 10 hours actual travel time and about 2.5 hours dinking around...for example, walking/watering Maisie, eating, relieving myself, taking the wrong exit (once), getting in a traffic jam in Chicago (I had been warned!) and being completely turned around at one point by Indiana's completely fucked up roads.

Anyway, we're spending the night tonight in Toledo, and I thought I'd link to a few of the pictures I took on the way:

Maisie getting a Drink

Knight's Inn

Maisie with her Lobster in Toledo

More tomorrow, I hope...now it's time for bed!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rappin'

It's been a while since I rapped at ya...

Anywho...thought I'd throw in a quick update. I will be uploading a GINORMOUS backlog of photos to Flickr today, and hopefully will then be more active with information on my upcoming road trip to Ithaca.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The World Is Run By Idiots

Something about this ticks me off...a substitute teacher goes to trial on FELONY charges over the every day teacher's mistake of installing adware on their machine??

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/06/teacher_granted.html

Q.E.D.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Aikido Technique of the Week

Turns out that there was a goof-up last week, and I described a different technique than I named...I will correct that this week.

So...

Hand Technique
Katate Aya Junte-mochi Taitenkan Tegatana-kirikomi Kokyu-nage - A
Cross Wrist Straight Grasp Body Shift Strike-in Breath-throw

  • Shite offers hand for cross wrist straight grasp, Uke grabs
  • Shite executes a 180-degree pivot, then a cross-step-in 180-degree pivot, bringing Uke around
  • Shite cross-steps in and body changes, raising up as if for front-strike, taking Uke off balance
  • Shite shuffle-steps in, cutting down to throw Uke forward
  • Zanshin with both arms forward, palms down


Weapon Technique
Kumitachi: Ju no Kumitachi Dai-roku yori Dai-hachi
Bokken with Partner, Ten Cuts, #6-#8

  • For all three, Uke raises up after Shite's signal, then shuffle-steps in for a front-strike to the waist
  • #6: Shite signal for front-strike, evade Uke's strike, circling over the right shoulder, cross-stepping to the left, then shuffle-in front-strike to the head
  • #7: Shite signal for front-strike, evade Uke's strike, circling over the left shoulder, shuffle-stepping to the right, then shuffle-in front-strike to the head
  • #8: Shite signal for front-strike, shuffle-back slightly back and offline, ducking bokken under Uke's strike, then shuffle-in wrist cut


Basic Movement
Irimi-nage Zanshin
Step-in Throw Final Form
From Kamae: shuffle-step in low, back hand turning palm down at about belt level, front hand curving over like for step-in throw and down almost to the other hand, palm facing to the side.

Breakfall
Hiki-ashi Koho Ukemi Ni
Step-back Back Breakfall #2

  • Start standing upright, feet together, hands at sides
  • Lean back off balance, as if thrown back, letting hands raise up and out to chest level
  • When balance is gone, step back with left leg, sit down back breakfall with hitting, come back to standing
  • Repeat, stepping back with right leg this time
  • Turn to the right
  • Rinse, repeat all steps above
  • Note: Keep chin tucked in
  • Note: Kick out with legs, arch back up slighly (don't fold at the waist)


I know I repeated the breakfall from last week, but I need to practice it more. :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Blame The Handheld Calculator

http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,72961-0.html?tw=wn_index_12

Go Problem of the Week

Like my Aikido Technique of the Week, the Go Problem of the Week idea didn't seem to take off as quickly/consistently as I had originally planned. I'm going to try to rectify that, and in interest of rectification, here's the next problem:

What should Black do to capture the marked White stones?



Black could move at 1, making sacrificing a stone to force White's hand:



White has to capture the stone with a move at 2 and then connect the two groups at 4 after Black plays at 3. Black moves at 5, putting all of the White stones in atari...White has no escape:

Aikido Technique of the Week

Turns out my "Technique of the Week" has turned into more of a "Technique of the Month or so", but I'm going to try to pull it back together. Here are my notes for this week's focus techniques:

Hand Technique
Katate Aya Junte-mochi Taitenkan Tegatana-kirikomi Kokyu-nage - A
Cross Wrist Straight Grasp Body Shift Strike-in Breath-throw

  • Cross Wrist Straight Grasp Initiation
  • Curving up (like elbow power?) to raise Uke off balance
  • Body Shift
  • Cross-step in while cutting down for the throw
  • Zanshin is both hands parallel, palms facing, or palms down??
  • Uke simply does a forward roll/jump breakfall when Shite throws


Weapoon Technique
Kumitachi: Kote-giri Kote-osae Dai-ichi oyobini Dai-ni
Bokken with Partner, Wrist Cut to Wrist Control, #1 and #2

    #1:
  • Shite and Uke raise up together
  • Uke shuffle-in front strike to waist; Shite shuffle slightly off-line to the right, cutting to Uke's wrist
  • Uke cross-step back, raise up; Shite follow in, wrist control (blade vertical)


    #2:
  • Same as #1, then...
  • Uke shuffle-in front strike to waist; Shite control to Shitoemi, blade pressed against Uke's neck (make sure bokken blade has no snags, ouch!)


Basic Movement
Kyujugo-do Kaiten
95-degree Pivot

  • Start in basic kamae stance
  • Pivot to 95-degrees, with a low stance; while pivoting, lower lead hand to level of back hand, then raise both hands up directly in front of body, lead hand at high chest height, back hand noticeably lower, palms facing up and out (similar to Spider-Man shooting a web?)
  • Coming back to kamae is just the opposite movement
  • Note: Keep back heel on the ground all the way around
  • Note: Keep back straight and upright


Breakfall
Hiki-ashi Koho Ukemi Ni
Step-back Back Breakfall #2

  • Start standing upright, feet together, hands at sides
  • Lean back off balance, as if thrown back, letting hands raise up and out to chest level
  • When balance is gone, step back with left leg, sit down back breakfall with hitting, come back to standing
  • Repeat, stepping back with right leg this time
  • Turn to the right
  • Rinse, repeat all steps above
  • Note: Keep chin tucked in
  • Note: Kick out with legs, arch back up slighly (don't fold at the waist)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Qwest DSL Like a Motherf*cker

My Saga with Qwest has got me boiling and almost to the point of exploding.

Ever since I purchased Qwest DSL I have had a problem that happens intermittently: I lose connection to the internet, I cannot connect to my modem at all from my internal network...I restart the modem and all is well again in the world...for a while.

At first this only happened every few days, but now it happens 4 or 5 times a day. Qwest, of course, thinks that it is a problem with the wireless router I use as a gateway to the modem, or maybe I have some big speakers sitting too close to the modem, or something...BULL$HIT! This happened when the modem was all by itself in a room with nothing else in it but a bed and a cat litter box. When I lose connectivity, I can't connect to the modem, even if I hook my computer directly to it via ethernet cord or USB cable.

So, now they are going to send a tech out to check things out.

Meanwhile, they want me to dumb down my network, disconnect printer, xBox, and all but one computer, on which computer I should disable all firewalls and antivirus.

This is getting rediculous...if I can't start reliably using the service I'm paying for soon, I'm going to have to switch to cable modem or something.

Just want to hit these guys!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Carless Living in Minneapolis

So...I've now been living carless in Minneapolis for about 9 months, busing to Plymouth and back 5 days a week for work, biking when it's warm enough, and getting to Aikido 4 times a week, shopping, movies, what have you.

We do use the Hour Car once in a while for things we can't do with the bus (i.e. take the dog to dog-training classes), but still...

With the effects of Global Warming looming on the horizon, tons of greenhouse gases constantly being pumped into the air, gas prices through the roof...I wonder why more people aren't willing to give up their cars?

Or even if you're going to have a car, get a hybrid, or at least carpool...it really pisses me off to see one person sitting alone in a big SUV in a rush-hour traffic jam on the freeway as I bus my way to work. It's like people don't even think.

OK, going to get off my high horse now, but I just wanted to make the point that I do it, and if I can do it, anyone can.

Go Problem of the Week

In addition to Aikido, I've been trying to improve my Go game...with that in mind, I am going to try to go through a different Go problem every week here. And for the first one...

What should black do to capture the marked white stones?



Once Black 1 is played below, the two marked white stones are as good as captured. If White 2 was played at Black 3, Black could have played at A, and ultimately capture even more of White's stones.

Aikido Technique(s) of the Week

As a self study aid, I decided to write weekly notes for myself on upcoming Aikido test techniques, basic movements, buki techniques, etc. Here goes...

Technique
Chest Grasp Body Change 1st Control Shoulder-support Extension Pin #1 One Knee Down Wrist Pin

  • Lead for chest grasp
  • 45 degree pivot, grab from on top
  • Return, raise up
  • First-control take down
  • Move hand from Uke's elbow to Uke's shoulder
  • Smooth steps guide down, Shite one knee down
  • Wrist pin supporting hand on the inside of the calf


Basic Movement
Kamae Basic Stance
Feet about one step part.
Feet pointed out at 45 degree angles (90 degrees to each other).
Weight about 60% on front foot, 40% on back.
Front leg bend slightly at the knee, back leg straight.
Back vertical.
Forward hand about chest high, almost straight forward, fingers extended.
Back hand about belt high, palms vertical as if holding a pane of glass.

Breakfall
Hitting Exercise #2
Lie down on the ground, legs up at about a 40-45 degree angle from the floor, toes pointed forward, head off the ground. Slap at 35-45 degree angles from the legs, slapping with the entire arm and palm, palms open. Let arms bounce up, and return immediately to beginning position (arms in front of chest, crossed at the wrist, left arm closer than right arm).

Buki
Basic Stance with Bokken
Turn Bokken out at your side by rolling left hand over until back of hand faces ground.
Grasp across with right hand to top of hilt.
Lift Bokken up to head, keeping tip down.
"Snap" Bokken up over head, tilted about 45-degrees up and back.
Step forward into Kamae stance, bringing back hand out and smoothly lowering bottom of hilt into back (lower) hand.
Hands should be about one fist apart.
Bokken out at about 40 degrees from ground, pushing forward, tip about own neck height.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Insomiac Nostalgia

Just woke up from a dream in which I was at a festival-type concert (in Minnesota). I had a tent set up, in which I had a nice arrangment of desk w/linux box, etc., etc...basically my most comfortable environment, probably. Bob from work was there, and my old friends Josh and Josh, who I hope to be seeing more of (especially since one of the Joshes is planning on moving to the city sometime soon). I watched bands at the show with my earbuds in, listening to different music. At the end of the music, tables were set up everywhere and people were eating...Carl Sturtivant (a CSCI instructor of mine when I was at the U of MN doing my BSc, also spent time at the University of Edinburgh...like me!), and so was Richard Dawkins. They were having an in-depth discussion about...what, I can't remember. I kept trying to sit near them to listen to their conversation, but every time I did, a bunch of other kids (young'uns, like me) also crowded in, and they moved somewhere else. Walking around, I ran into Simon (my MSc supervisor at the University of Edinburgh)...it was a pleasant surprise that he had made it out to MN for the show...Andrew Smith was also there...Simon commented on my short hair and lack of beard, and I commented on his facial hair arrangment...he had grown out some kind of punky beard with a pointed chin-thing, and sticky-out sideburns. We talked about the music at the show, the evolution of language, Sturtivant and Dawkins, etc., ...and then I woke up (it's now a bit past 4:30 am) with an incredible sense of nostalgia, and I think homesickness for Edinburgh. Also, insomnia, for which the cure (I hope) is writing this all down.

Pleasant dreams!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church

I've lately been reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church by Malachi Martin. The Author's thesis is basically that the Roman Catholic church defeated itself by taking on temporal and political power instead of staying within the realm of spiritual power.

It traces the first error of the church to the deal made between the Roman bishop Sylvester and the Roman emporer Constantine when Constantine legalized Christianity and made it the central religion of his empire, after seeing a vision and becoming convinced that he would attain military victory through Christ. It then goes through the ages from Pope to Pope, submitting anecdotes of how the Church's stronghold on military and political power ultimately lead to the loss of most of its power, and the errors made by various Popes when they might have lead the church back to a purely apiritual dominance.

I like the book so far...it has a lot of good information that fits nicely into my study of the origins and history of Christianity. It also illustrates how "made up" ideas can be propagated from generation to generation and gain validity through mere passage of time. In addition, it highlights the historical and continuing corruption in the Roman Catholic Church.

The author's breeze style is very easy to read, but the one major drawback of the book is that there are no references provided, which makes it difficult to directly verify the vailidity of much of the information. I think it would definitely be very good reading for some of my Roman Catholic friends.

Feeding the Ignorant

Over the beginning of the new year (2007), we went "up North" to Bemidji, MN, to visit with my cousin Samii. On Saturday evening, we watched Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Sunday afternoon, we went over to an Aunt and Uncle's house for lunch, and to play cards and visit.

Over lunch, the topic of Gore's movie came up, and we began discussing the movie, global warming, and environmental issues in general. I was genuinely surpised with the generic "Christian" attitude toward global warming and the environment held by my relatives, especially my cousin Isaac, and the ease with which they became offended when I suggested that blithe dismassals of the issue are rooted in willful self-delusion and fear of the lifestyle changes demanded by an acknowledgement of the problem, as well as of the inconvenience such changes cause. The conversation quickly moved on to other matters, to forestall any harsh arguments over lunch, but I took away three points from my discussion with Isaac that annoyed me:

1) Isaac pointed out that even Gore's movie showed that the overall global temperature fluctuates over a long period of time, and suggested that we are in a standard warming period, that will be followed by a cooling period in turn. What he failed to mention is the point that Gore was making: we are now on a warming trend that is way of the chart, and shows no signs of decreasing...actually, it shows every sign of accellerating out of control. This picking and choosing of which information to pay attention to is typical of conservative rhetoric, and bears a close resemlance to taking lone Bible versus out of context to support one's viewpoint...a practice that I frankly find disgusting and disturbing.

2) Isaac made the comment that it would be pretty arrogant of us to assume that we, as humans, can significantly impact something as massive as the climate of the planet. I find that statement irksome...I would say, rather, that it is pretty ignorant of us to assume that we cannot significantly impact the climate of the planet, especially in the face of a mass of convergent evidence showing that we are doing just that.

3) He also said "people believe what they want to believe". I would rather say that people believe what they believe...desire has nothing to do with it. I can want to believe that Santa Clause comes to my house every Christmas Eve and delivers presents under the tree, but I won't believe it, in the face of a giant pile of convergent evidence to the contrary. Many people base their beliefs on the best evidence they have at hand, and are willing to change their beliefs based on strong evidence to the contrary (these people are called Scientists), but many people also have the ability to discount strong evidence and believe only what is most convient for them...these include those religious ones who cling to their obviously false beliefs due to fear of having been wrong all their lives, fear of change, and fear of actually having to change their lives in a way that is inconvenient to them. Some people want to believe what is true, and they make an effort to fidn the truth, some people want to believe what is easy, and take it for granted that what their chosen authority has told them is true.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year Resolutions

This year I decided to blog my new year resolutions so you all can keep me honest. Basically I have resolved to get in better shape...I'm going to lay off candy, sweets, pop, etc., and go on a soup/salad/fruit diet until I've lost 10 pounds or so. I'm also going to work out more.

Vague enough for you?