Woohoo! I need to order a new book from Japan! Either that, or pick it up at Book Off when we next travel there...
Yep yep! Volume 3 of the manga 'Alps Hiroba' is out! I'm so happy, because I love this series! It's also time for me to catch up on the author's weblog.
And the best part is that I still can't read any of it ^_^
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The graphic to the left is used on the Kendo24 website, to advertise their equipment sets for beginners. I can't help but giggle ^_^
Anyway... A hundred euros (or 114 including shipping) gets me everything I'll need for my first few months of kendo training. A hakama (special pants), a gi (jacket), a shinai (bamboo dueling sword) and a bokken (wooden sword for kata). Oh, and a baggie to put the swords in. That's a pretty good deal, though obviously none of it will be of stellar quality. Still, a hundred bob is certainly manageable as a starting point!
Next up, I know it's not required and might be a bit weird, I'll write a short letter requesting our sensei to accept me as a student.
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All the running I've been doing the past year sure came in handy today! Aside from the usual stretching and jumping, today's warming-up also consisted of multiple laps around the gymnasium. Roughly 700m of running, sprinting, strafing and of course the kendo shuffles (forwards, reverse and sideways) would've certainly done me in two years ago but not now! :D
Speaking of the warming-up: aside from the fact that it's very useful, there is also something very cool about it. The last part consists of various jumps, jumping jacks and stomped landings, combined with counting. It really builds my fighting spirit (if you will) to have a gym filled with the roars of ichi-ni-SAN!, timed to jump-jump-THUMP! of twenty people. Like there's a giant bass drum in the room... ^_^
Anyway. I learnt a lot today. I still have the same problem as last week, where I strike with my whole arm instead of whipping the shinai with my left wrist. Aside from that I also tend to stoop a little, holding the shinai too low (below navel level). And there's one problem that's obvious for someone completely new to martial arts: I am hesitant to actually strike someone. Today we practiced the basic men strike and the kote-men strikes and only near the end of class would I actually start HITTING people, instead of tapping, glancing or tapping.
All my sempai were very helpful and patient, with most everyone having a pointer or two. I enjoy training with this group a lot!
At least there's nothing wrong with my kiai. Finally my big lung capacity pays off and I can use my Voice Of Authority(tm) for something else, besides addressing crowds at the 'Anime 200x' festivals.
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... especially if you're letting go of something that you've proudly built over a few years time. Case in point: I have just transferred full ownership and mangement of the Open Coffee Almere LinkedIn group to two of its most involved members.
I haven't visited an OCA meeting in months, if not over a year. And these two fellows have always been very involved, visiting every single session and also volunteering good ideas. So with a slight twinge in my heart I just clicked the "Change owner" button, followed by a "Change role to member" on my own account. The OCA LinkedIn group is now fully out of my hands.
Now to find a way to transfer both the website and the domain name to them as well.
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I have to say that starting something completely new is very thrilling. Though I have to admit that sometimes it's exciting to the point of panic.
Case in point: we will be soon taking Dana on her first airplane ride ever. In preparation for our long vacation in Japan we wanted to make sure that Dana doesn't go nuts on a plane, so we thought we'd try a day in Copenhagen which is only a one-hour flight instead of twelve. For some reason the idea of taking Dana on a plane fills me with dread, even going so far to giving me a real panic attack. I have absolutely no clue why, because it's all very safe and sound. I need to go over my own thoughts to try and find out what the heck is up.
Putting that particular case aside, I really do love starting new things from scratch. It's quite refreshing to be a blank slate, being forced to learn something from the utter and complete basics. This is why I loved going back to college, why I loved learning golf and now it's why I greatly enjoy kendo.
It's interesting to see that in kendo I tend to make the same mistakes I did in golf: I cramp my arms and I still try to put force on both of my arms instead of only on my left arm. As is explained on this terrific website:
"Perhaps the most common mistake of beginners is to use the muscles of the right arm to swing. Ask any golfer what happens if you try and use the muscles of your right hand in a golf swing. The swing will go wild, you won't hit your target, and you'll hit very hard with no self control. This not only looks terrible, but will piss off your opponent as well."
I do admit that for the first time in learning something new I am actually daunted by the task at hand! The journey to learn kendo leads up a huge mountain and right now I can see the whole trip I'm supposed to take. I should really only focus on the first few steps though, because the enormity of the task may lead me to two of the four shikai: doubt and confusion.
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Today I did something new: I partook in kendo training.
Recently I've been getting the "itch" to pick up sports again. i've been running between the office and the railway station every day, trying to build up some stamina again. This is going slowly, but it's working. But as I learnt last summer, I doubt that I'd want to go back to long endurance running again. Well, as Menno so succinctly pointed out: "there's never a dull moment in kendo!"
The way I see it, kendo will be beneficial to me in a number of areas. Obviously it's good exercise, there's no doubt about that. It will hopefully also teach me some mental endurance and some much-needed humility. Personally I love the rigor, the tradition and the ceremony, so that's a plus. And physically? I can only dream of ever becoming as fast as some of these folks! One fellow I practiced with would be able to get in five to seven blows for every one of mine. The light footedness! Amazing!
There is one snag though. If I ever want to progress beyond the mere basics, wear a bogu and actually start fighting, then I will need to get over myself and start wearing contact lenses. There is no way that my normal glasses will stand up to the blows. So either I purchase expensive, custom sports glasses, or I get my eyes lasered, or I get contacts. Seeing how contacts are the cheapest and least permanent option it's safest to go with that for now.
The dojo in Almere, Renshinjuku, is an offshoot of a larger dojo in Amstelveen. There aren't that many kendo dojo in the Netherlands, but I appear to have lucked out with this one! For my taste the dojo has the right level of formality. I was dreading a group similar to my original archery group in Zutphen: no discipline, no rigor, just teenagers running wild. Luckily that is not the case at all! In the dressing room the atmosphere is jovial and informal, but once you go out to the training floor everybody gets serious.
I am really looking forward to next week's class.
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Of course we've known for a long time that kindergarten is worth every penny we spend on it. For fifty bob a month Dana gets to play with twenty other kids for roughly six hours a week, including many educational games and such. She enjoys it tremendously and she also shows that she learns a lot over there.
But now it seems that they've also potty trained her, without us even noticing :)
For the past few weeks Dana's been announcing "poop!" right before she actually needed to do a number two. Then this week she also started saying "piss" at intervals. We assumed it was to announce that she had already done it, but today we learnt that's not what she meant!
This afternoon while working in the kitchen Dana told me "piss". So I changed her diaper, but when putting on her pants she got upset. "Open, open!" she exclaimed, so I asked her what she meant. She led me to the hallway door, I openend it, she climbed upstairs, she opened the bathroom door and stood there expectantly. Upon removing her pants she didn't want to get onto the normal toilet seat, instead telling me to "close!". She was confused when the actual lid showed up. She was expecting this, which she is used to from kindergarten.
I have promptly ordered one for the household, because this is too great an opportunity to pass up. Our girl apparently already is potty trained :)
Whoops, a few corrections! Turns out I was wrong about a few things.
kilala.nl tags: baby,
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I recently read an article in The Economist entitled "Field of tears", regarding migrant workers in America. It makes you think, though as the title suggests it is also something that most people will prefer not to think about. It can be read online, complete and for free. For a well-off middle class westerner it's hard to imagine the life of these Mexicans "without papers" as they'd rather call themselves. I can really recommend reading the article.
Obviously it's a downer and it makes me wonder what the heck could be done to solve this unpleasantness. But then it all starts spiraling out and it goils down to "how the heck do we end human suffering?".... Which will be nigh impossible, for ever and ever. Sadly.
One other thing -really- stood out from the article though. Everybody will know the cliche of "Dey tuk our jerbs!!!" (thank you South Park!), with right wingers clamouring for the expulsion of immigrants who supposedly "took their jobs". Well, I guess they were wrong:
"At a time of high unemployment, many Americans are convinced that these aliens take American jobs. As a test, this summer the United Farm Workers (UFW), the main agricultural union, launched a campaign called “Take Our Jobs”, inviting willing Americans to work in the fields. In the following three months [three million] people visited takeourjobs.com, but 40% of the responses were hate mail. [...] Only 8,600 people expressed an interest in working in the fields, says Ms Machuca. But they made demands that seem bizarre to farmworkers, such as high pay, health and pension benefits, relocation allowances and other things associated with normal American jobs. In late September only seven American applicants in the “Take our jobs” campaign were actually picking crops."
Emphasis in bold print is mine. So out of 8600 applicants only seven people ended up taking the jobs. Which would once again reinforce the notion that immigrants are only taking jobs nobody else would want.
kilala.nl tags: life,
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*shakes fist* Damn you iPhoto, damn you to heck!
Yup. Our iPhoto library has crapped out again. It's showing up either as empty, or saying there's a version conflict. Of course I can't install iPhoto 09 (I'm running 08) because those disks are only licensed for Marli's laptop. And because she recently opened the library using her Mac, the whole library was upgraded to version 09, meaning that my 08 can't read it anymore.
*sigh* I've ordered iLife 11 to get it over with and synchronize the versions of iLife on both of our Macs.
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First and foremost, 2010 was the year in which Marli got her gastric bypass operation. After years of different failed attempts at dieting a harsh decision was made. In April the decision was made, followed by many tests and intake meetings. Then, in October the operation was performed successfully. In the past months Marli lost roughly 30 kilos (66 pounds). 2010 was also my year of presentations.
I did a few presentations about BoKS, including one at the big NLUUG conference in May. I also taught my first class on BoKS to a group of eight. Finally, I also did a presentation on collecting rare Japanese toys at the Anime 2011 convention.
2010 was yet another year in which our household caught up with modern technology. We've moved our contacts, our calendars and our notes/brainstorms into the cloud using MobileMe and Evernote. We got two iPhone 4s, with my sister, my b.i.l and my best friend also getting iPhones. We moved our in-house data onto a mirrored NAS attached to our Wifi network and we also started using proper backup software for all the computers in the house.
Speaking of modern technology, I already expressed my belief in the future of digital publishing. Right before the end of 2010 I also get an account at Zinio, for access to hundreds of international magazines. They're legible on my iPhone, they're perfect on my boss's iPad and they're very good on my Macbook as well. I've said it before and I'll say it again: digital publishing has the future :)
2010 was yet another year in which we really, really wanted to go to Japan, but didn't. I've been investigating all manner of new fun things to do, my sister+father went to Tokyo for two weeks and we've been talking about a new trip with Kaijuu. We originally planned on going to Japan this Christmas (the boys from Shiranai are there now), but we weren't sure if Marli's operation would allow for it. In retrospect we could've gone without any problems, but we didn't. So now we're shooting for fall 2011. There's also a good chance that my sister and her fiancee will travel with our group.
Speaking of! 2010 is the in year in which my sister got her long hoped-for proposal! ^_^
2010 was a year of gardening for me. We started the year with a newly renovated garden and now it was up to me to fill it up with smaller stuff. The back yard was filled with fruit bushes and trees. During their first year they didn't provide much (though the raspberries were wonderful!), but I'm hopeful for this year. The front yard had a few problems with bushes dying, so I needed to make another new start with that one.
Over the summer I ran for little over two months. I re-started the Couch to 5k program and managed to complete it; in the end I was able to run for 30 minutes straight. However, I then quickly got bored with it all and quit. I did feel guilty about quitting though. Maybe I'll re-do it all in the next summer.
2010 was a year of study. I spend a few months studying and preparing for my CISSP exam, which I then aced in November. I'm still waiting for my endorsement to come through, but I'm certain that won't take much longer.
In 2010 my hyperventilation did not go away and I actually had a panic attack or two. It's been a learning experience, both on how to deal with it and about my own psyche. Let's call it a mixed blessing.
And like last year, Dana's been busy, busy, busy! To summarize...
In the beginning I mentioned Marli's weightloss, but there's also mine. I believe I started the year at around 90-93 kilos. Over summer I went down to 85 kilos by running the Couch to 5k program. Then after Marli's operation we changed our eating habits at home, which resulted in another 9 kilos (I'm now at 76 kilos). So by 2.5 months of running and changing our food intake I lost roughly 17 kilos (37 pounds). I hadn't even realized that until I gave it some thought today. Whoa!
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Not much to see here folks, just keeping track of my hyperventilation attacks. I'm sure this was caused by the fact that all the festive holiday stress has now subsided and the last of the December responsibilities has been fulfilled.
I'm also quite sure that I've forgotten to log one situation in Nov or Dec, so here's a +1 for Q4 2010.
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All content, with exception of "borrowed" blogpost images, or unless otherwise indicated, is copyright of Thomas Sluyter. The character Kilala the cat-demon is copyright of Rumiko Takahashi and used here without permission.