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. :-)


allison said...

It's nice reading about how things are going. I too am a Baha'i who loves martial arts, but am not currently practicing.

Your attitude of being even more involved in the core activities during this 'short work' is very much appreciated.

My husband and I live in Austin, Texas. Are you from the States?

wh44 said...

> Are you from the States?

@allison: Yes, I was born in Detroit, but my family moved around a lot - I've lived on the east coast and west coast and in between. I went to college at Carnegie-Mellon University (1979-1984) and then moved to Germany, where I've been ever since.