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...

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.

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).

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!