Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Catching up

Tomorrow is the bi-annual belt-test, but I'm not testing this time. There wasn't as much push for me to do so this time, and I don't really feel ready. I've been busy helping others prepare, but myself I don't feel that much further along than last test - while I've had some improvement on breathing, kiais and stance, I've actually forgotten some of the techniques I was planning on using the last belt test. Generally I've been rather busy with a bunch of things. Oh, and I've got a rather hurt (broken?) toe again. It's taped and been recovering reasonably the past two weeks.

I'm still learning Chinese in exchange for Guitar lessons. I've been expanding my areas of interest - learning from Chinese Wikipedia using the Perapera addon for Firefox. Tonight he is not here though: he is planning on watching the soccer championships with a couple of friends. Watching soccer does not really interest me.

This last Monday I took a trip to Stuttgart to meet face-to-face with my coworkers for the first time in many months. It was rather chaotic, but I managed to have two relatively important meetings. There are two new possible projects to do research for, as soon as I am done doing what I'm doing now.

There is a new Baha'i in our community. Curiously, instead of declaring in person, she sent her declaration card in and we were notified by eMail. We're all happy either way. :-)

I feel like I've been wasting too much time - reading reddit and playing online games, instead of improving myself. My guitar playing has been stagnating, except for playing Classical Gas, which is slowly improving. I feel like I could be learning Chinese faster.

That's pretty much it - a rather scatter-shot post. That's how I feel at the moment, too.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blue-Brown Belt and Other Stuff

I just belt-tested this evening and earned a blue-brown belt. On the one side, I made so many mistakes, it wasn't funny. I didn't kiai enough, I didn't breathe properly, I didn't have enough endurance, I didn't move my hips enough, I used too much power instead of technique, I leaned forward too much, Augh! On the other side, I did know the techniques required, I did recover seamlessly when I made mistakes, I was neither too gentle nor too rough with my uke and I did remember to kiai a fair number of times. I am very disappointed with myself, but I don't think the belt is completely undeserved. I probably wouldn't have tried for it yet, except that I was pretty much told to do so by Sensei and Shihan - it was a lot of work on top of helping everyone else prepare. It's probably for the best that I did: I can only help people insomuch as I know and can demonstrate the material myself.

In other news, I think the dojo Christmas party is shaping up to be really fun. A good lot of parents and adult dojo members have said they are coming. Unfortunately, our Sensei won't be coming, or if he does, rather late: work conflict. On the fun side: it'll be a potluck, so not so much work, and at least several people (including myself) are planning on making music and singing. :-)

Workwise: I finished a bit of required work, and am now having fun, trying to make a work program multithreaded, or at least pseudo-multithreaded, so that a long process can be interrupted if need be. The "program" is actually an add on for another program, and apparently the original program never anticipated multithreaded DLLs and puts some pretty insurmountable roadblocks in the way of true multithreading, so I'm going with the pseudo-multithreading. I think I have it pretty much licked.

I've got next week off, and I'll be helping a few people move. Then we kick off next year with a Jiu Jitsu "trainer training". After being in the dojo an average of 4 times a week for the past couple months, it feels like Jiu Jitsu is taking over my life. I think it's good I'll be taking a two (three?) week vacation from it.

There are several JavaScript/Perl programs that have been put on the back burner while I've been in Jiu Jitsu overdrive. I hope to finally get around to making the games playable and the other programs actually useful.

I've also got some repairs and improvements to be done around the house: I want to put a ventilator in the bathroom and install a fireplace.

I switched from Vodafone (they bought out our previous provider) to Telekom, which was a mistake. I've switched again to UnityMedia, which is a good deal so far, but now I've got a conflict with the German Telekom. I need to talk to a lawyer about that. I'll probably end up paying for two years of overpriced Telekom service that I don't need or want. *sigh*.

The youth group I mentioned in the last post didn't work out very well and has pretty much self-destructed - the youth stopped coming. It looks like we'll be starting a new group with two kids who are more enthusiastic about helping their community. I hope we can attract a few more kids like these two to the group.

I'm still working on perfect pitch - it is slowly, ever so slowly improving. I've been at it for months now, and I have only about a 30% chance of getting through the first six levels of the easiest setting with no mistakes (that is, recognizing 18 notes in a row, from a single octave with no sharps or flats).

I'm still meeting with the Chinese student to exchange guitar lessons for Mandarin lessons, though we give it a miss more often than we meet - both he and I have schedule conflicts fairly often.

Altogether, life is going okay.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Well, it's been a long while:

I turned 50 this past month. Best birthday party ever: I invited a lot of people, and we partied in the dojo. I asked people to bring food or make music in lieu of a present. There was lots of hand made music and some singing, lots of good food, lots of good conversations. I think almost everyone had a good time.

In Jiu Jitsu, this past Summer I was given the Sho Dan Ho, shortly after our previous Sho Dan Ho earned his first Dan. Normally they wait until you're a brown belt, but apparently both my Sensei and Shihan felt very strongly that I should have it right away. It probably has more to do with my dedication to helping with the kids and youth than my actual capability, though I am progressing acceptably. I am supposed to test for a blue-brown belt with the other belt tests in December. I think I have the basic techniques down that I'll need, but I need to work on speed, not to mention my kiai. I'm having trouble finding enough time to work with my partner on it.

I've started taking lessons in Chinese from a Chinese student who lives nearby. In exchange, I'm teaching him to play guitar.

We (DW, myself and several other Baha'i) have started a youth group based on Ruhi 5. Not to mention, that I just started Ruhi 5 (DW finally finished this past year and is taking it again). We met with the first 3 kids this past Tuesday, discussed what it was about, played a game, did some exercises. It was good - I think they'll come back and bring a few more people.

I've been working on guitar a fair amount - learning several new folk-picking pieces, learning sight-reading and practicing playing from sheet music, trying to get perfect pitch with this site: And I'm starting to practice Christmas songs so I can play them at any Christmas parties if the need should arise.

I've also been practicing programming in JavaScript/DOM and Perl. I'm working on writing several programs - probably spreading myself a little thin there.

Work has been starting to get heavier again, in starts and fits. I actually pulled an all-nighter last month.

I helped two different people move this year already, and I'll probably be helping more people move in December. Just like old times!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


It's been a while since my last update, and lots of stuff has happened.

DW and I went to the U.S. in October for two weeks - DW spent almost the entire time at her sister's, where her Mom was visiting, back from the Solomon Islands. I went off to my sister's for about a week first, where I had a great time, met my parents for a few days and got lots of exercise - I joined her in doing the "Couch to 5K" program, went to her dojo twice (Isshinryu), did "core" with her (lots and lots of crunches), and went bowling with her and the kids as an early birthday present to me :-). I came back to Georgia and my sister-in-laws on my birthday, where we celebrated an all-in-one birthday party the next day (mine, my mother-in-law's, my brother-in-laws all in the same week). Then I visited my cousin near Philadelphia for a day, and finally went to D.C. where I met up with DW and we celebrated her birthday with a few hundred thousand people (well, they mostly weren't there for her birthday, they were there for the Rally to Restore Sanity, which we were there for, too). We did a road trip back to Georgia, which was pretty fun - lots of time with DW. :-)

In December I passed the belt test for green belt. I did lots of prep and held children's "free training" Saturday mornings again - the kids did pretty good when they were tested. The youth were more mixed. The lower belts were really good, the middle belts were so-so, and two of the youth who had just moved up from the kids failed - the standards are much higher for youth than for kids. I'm hoping that they don't give up: they're both good.

We did some visiting during Christmas and had a small New Years party with Raclette at our place. I continued to work. I felt very out of shape after a couple of weeks of not training.

Then I jumped right in with a "trainer training", from Wed. (5-Jan) evening to Sunday noon, training, training, training, with a surprise: on Sat. all the green belts were given a surprise belt-test, and we're now all blue belts. I also have a trainer "C" certificate, allowing me to train in our dojo with my sensei's permission. I still need to get my first aid certification, though.

Mom is still cancer free, though it's really too early to say it is really gone. She's also just had a cataract operation on one eye.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I got my orange-green belt (sorry for taking a week to report on it). It was a good test. Everybody passed, kids, youth and adults, but only one person skipped a half-belt (adult), and she really deserved it. I was her regular training partner before and uke during the test :-) . We had been expecting Shihan J. to be on the test commission, but he didn't show. The test commission was only two black belts, our Sensei, H., and Sensei T. from out of town. I sat next to them for the kid's belt tests and called out what they were to do. I was both happy and a little disappointed in the kids: I felt most of the lower belts should have done a lot better, the higher belts, most of whom showed up Saturday mornings for kids' free training, did better (sigh of relief). For my own test, I was more relaxed than previous times and managed to recover several errors rather than ask to restart, but still not relaxed enough to remember to kia, despite Sensei H.'s reminding me to two or three times :-( . Generally, neither the kids nor I got to show off any extra techniques, which was a little disappointing: both the kids and I had trained to the green belt program, though we were testing for orange-green. The youth, with one exception, were very listless and barely scraped by - the one shining star was J., the newbie white-belt, who easily outshone the much higher belts.

The Ruhi 8 course is completed. It was interesting stuff - I'm motivated to read more Baha'i history now. I need to order some books.

In other Baha'i news, we had our reflection meeting this past Sunday. We're going to have a 3 week expansion phase instead of 2 weeks. I think that's because of an event this weekend that would distract from any events we might plan.

I need to sign off now: almost time for the devotional for the Martyrdom of the Báb.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Upcoming Belt Test, Ruhi 8, OpenMoko and Cancer

Well, it's been about a month and well past time to update.

Belt test is rapidly approaching (July 1st) - I'm feeling pretty good about it: I'm feeling much more comfortable both throwing and being thrown with the new hip throw. My forward roll left is still not as strong as right, but it's still good. My biggest worry, as ever, is remembering how each move starts, which is kind of compounded by the recent changes, but I think I have it under control. In general I'm just feeling much more relaxed while training. I should - I've been training nearly every day. One (hopefully) minor hitch: my ring finger on my right hand got jerked rather hard yesterday during practice and has started hurting whenever I try to grasp something. I don't think it will be a problem, but I need to keep an eye on it.

The kid's training has been going well, too. Last time 8 kids showed up and no co-trainers, so of course there was some boredom as I kept switching between the advanced and the beginners, but I think it was tolerable. A week and a half ago I did a dry run of the test and was shocked to find some rather large gaps in their routines, which I think are now more-or-less under control.

As expected, we've started Ruhi 8 on the Covenant. A very intensive course: we've had three days so far, all from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm - the first day there was a mild conflict with the kid's training, where I left training relatively early and arrived at the course a bit late. There's a lot of memorizing and a lot of homework: this last time I turned a quote into a song to help us memorize it, and researched short Biographies on Ethel J. Rosenberg and Thomas Breakwell, two early Baha'is from the British Isles.

I managed to almost trash my OpenMoko - I issued the command "opkg upgrade", which tells it to upgrade everything it can. It worked for a while, but then tried to upgrade the WiFi program - problem being that it was connected via WiFi at the time. *sigh*. It worked as a basic phone, but various other things were broken, including especially WiFi. I flashed the NAND memory from scratch and things are working again. The latest Navit is still not showing roads - I wonder if the Navit developers are seeing the same things I am, because it has become completely unusable for me. I would try and fix the problems, but it refuses to link with the toolchain I have, which makes fixing things rather a problem.

Mom is doing as well as can be expected - better really. I told her about William Li and his antiangiogenic diet (see this TED video), and she has been going wild with that. I think it gives her the sense of control she needs.

That's all for now. :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

LSA, Scanners, stuff

I forgot to mention in my last post, that we elected a new Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA) this past Rizvan. We had 10 people eligible, so there actually was a vote. Yesterday we elected the officers.

I was just reading up on the scanners - apparently a lot of the new scanners are back-scatter soft x-ray scanners. The safety studies on the things average the radiation exposure over the body, whereas almost all of the absorption occurs right at the skin, meaning your skin gets a nice unhealthy dose. Joy of joys, yet another reason not to fly. If I fly, I think I'll just opt for the strip-search over the scanners.