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.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

General Update

Well, things have been rolling right along. I'm supposed to take a month of vacation leftover from last year before the end of June, but I haven't managed to take any yet. I've been rather busy with work of late, despite the "Kurzarbeit".

In related news, I've been banging my head against the wall trying to create a proper cross-compiler toolchain for big-endian ARM processor so I can develop for my OpenMoko (SHR) / Neo Freerunner. Getting the cross-compiler itself is easy, but getting all the libraries etc. to compile is near impossible. I've given up for the moment and taken an older pre-compiled toolchain, just so I can get something done.

I've taken part in 2 Jiu Jitsu trainings since my last post. I'm continuing to be a co-trainer for Nippon Jiu Jitsu, and in fact am adding to it by leading 9:00 am Saturday "free trainings" between now and the belt test next month for any kids who want to practice up before the belt test. I've discovered I need a first aid certification before I can get a green belt - I need to do that soon.

We're continuing our Friday evening devotional, sometimes with more, sometimes fewer people, but still going good. Our (Baha'i) cluster is now officially an "A Cluster", meaning we have a vibrant community with lots of people involved in core activities. I'll probably be participating in a Ruhi 8 course soon - though my Saturday morning free training may conflict with that (time and place is not yet set).

Oh - big news: Mom has cancer, but most of my few readers will already know that. She's undergoing chemo and radiation - the prognosis is good, because it was caught early.

I *still* don't know if I'll be going to the U.S. this Summer. DW is definite that she's not going: she protesting the new Teraherz scanners the only effective way - boycotting air travel. If I go, it will be around the week of July 10-18.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Belated Anniversary and Naw Ruz

The bad news first: my Mom has breast cancer. She's already been operated, and will have to have chemo and radiation. My sister has been helping out there, despite that she has her hands full taking care of her father in law, who has cancer, too. It got caught at a relatively early stage. As I understand it, the survival rate for her type and stage is about 80%.

While we're talking cancer - a co-worker of mine died this past Friday of lung cancer. He's going to be given a "forest burial", probably middle of April. My company is planning on either participating, if his children wish it, or holding our own memorial, if they don't.

And at the beginning of the fast A.M., who I haven't seen in years, called: her Mom died - and I went to that funeral, about an hour away. It was just A.M., myself and I.D. - I.D. has now gotten married and has a two kids, one his wife's from a previous marriage, and one his own who is still a baby. A.M. is not doing well health-wise herself, but it was good to see I.D. is doing well.

All in all, I notice I'm getting older (48) - people I know are getting ill and dying with increasing frequency. As they say: getting older is better than the alternative.

The fast went well this year - not too much difficulty, despite Jiu Jitsu Mondays and Thursdays meaning that I only got a small sandwich somewhat belatedly after sunset. I've officially been working five hours a day, roughly accurate - sometimes more, sometimes less. It hasn't gotten to the point where it is conflicting, which is good.

We went to a restaurant for our anniversary, as has been our custom the last several years. This was our 27th. We went to a nice Indian restaurant for it. :-)

Naw Ruz on the 20th was rather laid back this year - we had planned to celebrate the evening of 20th at a friends house who was combining it with a small Birthday party, but that got canceled, so we spent it at home. Then on the 21st there was a nice celebration in a restaurant in a nearby city - there we met with A & A and their two daughters and had a really nice time. Mom A. is Hindu, Dad A. is Christian, but they're both very practical, so there is not much conflict - in fact they're thinking of sending their kids to Baha'i children's classes when they get started in their new city (they moved there a few months back). On the 23rd, we celebrated Naw Ruz yet again at a private gathering - for some reason I'm totally blanking on that celebration.

Tomorrow I'll be attempting to teach the Jiu Jitsu kids "alone" - Sensei will be there, but he wants me to lead the class while he watches from off the mat, so I get practiced in case of a real emergency. It is now school vacation, and probably half of the kids will be gone (we usually have over 20 these days) - ideal for practicing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It's about time for an update:

A week ago last Tuesday I went to the company central and dragged along my "praktikant", even though he was no longer a praktikant and his contract was about to run out. He's now done and starting his studies at the University here. :-)

I am doing a lot less "Kurzarbeit", i.e. a good deal more work. In particular I am currently trying to get a set of cross-compile tools set up for both MIPS and ARM processors. Documentation in OSS really, really sucks. I think once I get my set to compile, I'll post my script to generate them somewhere.

My Sensei was out both Monday and Thursday this week. On Monday, his official assistant, B., managed to get some parents really angry with him and give Sensei an earful - he was too heavy-handed and caused a couple of kids to be really upset. On Thursday, another brown belt, T., led the group - this time, the kids were so happy with T., that several asked if he would be there on Monday, too. I think that evened things out a bit. :-)

We've also been very active in Baha'i activities. Last weekend, we were all underway in different cities for the Baha'i cause: I was at a practice session for guitarists and singers who wished to improve their skills for Musical Firesides, DW was at an institutional meeting, and K. was underway trying to get youth and children's classes started. Tomorrow we're having an Ayyam-i-ha celebration at our place - I've made some stollen for the party. :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Orange Belt!

This past week I was in the dojo "only" four times (see previous post). The training on Saturday, the last one before the test today, went really well: a lot of people showed up, and everyone was concentrated and helping each other and making real progress. It felt like we were coming together as a team. We all cleaned up the dojo together afterward as well. Then today, the test went really well for pretty much everyone in the adult group: everyone knew at least the moves they were supposed to, and many a good deal more, and everyone was quick and precise. Of the ca. dozen people being tested, about half (including myself) skipped a half belt. This is very unusual - previously, the most that had ever jumped a half-belt at one time was two. (half-belts are not used by all dojos, but ours uses them. the progression is white, white-yellow, yellow, yellow-orange, orange, orange-green, etc.)

On the other hand, the kids did not do terribly well. The highlights were some of the very young, white belt kids, who, despite being very lax in practice, were suddenly totally snappy and alert in the test. But a whole group of the higher level belts have been asked to work on it another month and retake the test then (rather unusual, too: we usually only have the tests twice a year). We're going to have to arrange some extra hours for the kids - the "free training" sessions are too late for most of the kids to participate in.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jiu Jitsu Week

Well, as this week comes to a close, I've been in the dojo 5 times:

* Monday - the usual 3.5-4 hours, as co-trainer for children and youth, then participating in the adult session
* Wednesday - had a good 2 hour free training session with I., who brought along his iPhone with training videos on it and a digital video camera with tripod so we could see ourselves better. That was one of the best training sessions ever, even though I. is a yellow belt like myself.
* Thursday - same as Monday.
* Friday - Since I couldn't go to the evening free training session, I asked around who could do earlier. It turned out that I. could do morning but had to leave by 2:00, M. could come as early as 2:00, but would prefer 3:00, and K. couldn't come before 5:30. So, I. and I had a session from 12:00-2:00 (he forgot the camera, but it was still good), I rushed home had lunch rushed back and had a session with M. at 3:00, K. showed up early at 4:30, just before M. left, and K. and I practiced until around 6:30. Sensei H. showed up shortly after, and said I should keep the dojo key - he had got one of his lent-out keys back. :-)
* Saturday - was a required pre-test training session from 10:00-5:00. It was led by Shihan J. It was a bit more difficult than I'd been expecting - some old techniques are being exchanged for new techniques, and so, a lot of the things I've been training are obsolete. I also managed to get my right thumb stubbed, again, about an hour before things were over - I stubbed it about a month ago, jamming it into the mat during a wrestling session, and it had just about stopped being sensitive. Now I was in a semi-free sparring session with I., and he slammed his palm down on my thumb at just the wrong angle.

Friday evening I was at a tutor-meeting with my daughter instead of at home for our usual devotional - DW hosted alone. It was interesting seeing how the Baha'i study circles and other activities have been growing dramatically in the past few years, it looks like an exponential growth curve. :-)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sensei for a Day

Well, actually just Sensei for a little over an hour. This past Thursday my Sensei had to deal with a semi-emergency, and I took over the children's class for the last 10 minutes, and all of the youth class. It went well - they're all used to me as Sensei's co-trainer. Our Shihan and Sensei's previous standard co-trainer, a brown belt, showed up during the youth class and helped out a bit with some questions. The brown belt then took over for the adult class.

Today (Saturday) I was guitarist for another Musical Fireside, this time an hour away in Korbach. It went quite well - I had an interesting chat, played a bit of background music, and at the end, there was a rousing round of "Amazing Grace" with DW and some others there who had choir experience.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Short Work, Co-Training, Between the Years

I really need to get in a routine of posting. Since I last posted the biggest change is that I am (and all my colleagues are) in what Germans call "Kurzarbeit" (literally "short work") - that is, I am to work (much) less than usual and the employment office pays part of my salary. This has given me tons of free time, which I've been filling with different activities: Mondays and Thursdays I go to the Dojo two and a half hours earlier to act as a co-trainer for the kids and junior classes; I've been attending more Baha'i activities; I've been reading more; I've been surfing more (I discovered reddit).

The Dojo has a lot of kids: there are usually between 10 and 20 kids. I still can't remember all their names, though I've been trying to learn them. The juniors are much easier: there are only four who come regularly. It is very gratifying to see the kids (all of them) progressing - not so much in their Jiu Jitsu skills, although they are improving there, but in their interpersonal skills and their attention span - that is where it is really gratifying.

The next belt test is in 3 weeks, and I feel pretty confident, what with all the extra practice as co-trainer. Even so, I plan on stepping up my practice a notch: I want to go to a "sister" Dojo Wednesdays to train some more - I can't usually make the "free training" on Fridays because of our regular Friday evening event.

What Germans call "Between the years", that is between Christmas and New Years, we (myself, DW and DD=dear daughter) were in Berlin, visiting P. P is an elderly Iranian woman, whose husband was martyred some time ago. She herself spent some time in an Iranian prison and still has some health problems because of it. Kelly produced a radio show with her, telling of her experiences, and later Kelly helped her write a book about it (in German). She's pretty happy and sprightly anyway. We camped out with sleeping bags in her living room and had a good time, visiting museums, seeing shows and such. I fixed some problems with her laptop for her and installed Skype and a webcam so she could communicate with family and friends, while DW and DD went window shopping on the famous KuDamm. We had intended to be back home about 9:00 pm on New Years Eve, but due to weather, our planned train was canceled and our alternate trains were all late, such that we ended up getting home about a quarter to midnight. We were in good spirits anyway. We spent a good chunk of the time in a Chinese restaurant in Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe train station - the last open restaurant - waiting for our next connection. They were really nice about letting us stay in the warm restaurant and reading our books instead of waiting out in the cold, even though they wanted to close up shop.

Yesterday I hurt my thumb in Jiu Jitsu practice, but not badly, I think: I slammed my hand down on the mat with my thumb underneath. It's red, sore, stiff and slightly swollen today, but usable. Our Sensei has been having us do more free sparring of a sort - officially there is no free sparring, but we have exercises where we wrestle - no standing allowed - but locks are allowed.

Last Friday I finally visited H, who I've been attempting to visit since October. He's a Christian who really believes in living Christ's message - the love everyone Christ, not the "hate fags" Christ. He lives in a house out in the boonies, with a dog, a cat and four sheep. I played a lot of guitar and we discussed religion and society, and we were pretty much in complete agreement about everything. I also told him a good bit about Baha'i - he was interested and asked a lot of questions. I also got a bag of wool for my sister :-) . I still have to clean it before I can send it to her. I'm not sure if we're going to the U.S. this Summer, what with reduced income and uncertainty and all, but if we do, I'll probably bring it along instead of sending it.

A somewhat older story (November?), but very happy thing: I've had a solar panel for most of a year now, and had been intending to set it up and make it usable. Sensei's girlfriend, E, is a teacher, and she was participating in a project week on energy conservation and alternate energy sources, so I suggested that she could use my solar panel to demonstrate. This was the motivation I needed toget off my ***, and I fixed everything up so that it worked, with the various components detachable, and then gave it to her together with a voltmeter, so that the students could see how the solar panel could charge a 12V battery, and how that was converted to 220V (the European norm) which could light a bulb or run other appliances. I wasn't there myself, but apparently it was a great hit. :-)