[General] A weekend from my weekends

A partner once complained that weekends were never weekends because we were always bouncing around to somewhere new.

I've felt that for the past several months.  Even with my commitment to not work on weekends, I still often end up with no relaxation.  Visiting my father can be calming, but it's not as relaxing as being home alone with no expectations, schedule, or obligations.  I love the May iaido and jodo seminar in Guelph, but I barely sleep let alone breathe for the four days.  Hosting a vegan potluck?  I love these people, but I see people all week at work and often afterwards.  Hmm. 

So I am taking this weekend off from weekends.  I can go outside and bike or canoe if I want to, and only if I want to.  I don't have to be up at 8AM to make it to the Farmers Market nice and early, which I like doing with my friend Pam, but this week, I woke up at 11AM, and meandered over, and just hung around and chatted with friends and shared cupcakes.  Later I will probably kayak alone.  Then take a nap.  Then I hope to read, and maybe code a little.

My ideal work life would see me working on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, with Wednesday off in the middle, as a complete rest day.  I wouldn't mind working longer days (with a nap break in the middle), because it's nicer to have longer but fewer work days for me: less transition, less using up all my gusto in the first half, and feeling tempered for the second.

Today I am lazy.

[Microblog] Transient Talking

"What are those people in the streets doing?"
"They're revolting"
"I find them revolting too, but why are they burning my Audis?"
"It's a revolution, sir."
"Of what around what?  I don't see any revolvers doing any revolving."
"Clearly they're revoluting."


[Microblog] Transient Tales

My friend Sarah is leaving, FOREVER, so we went canoeing.  On the trip, we saw some geese and their goslings:
Camera phone's are awesome at far shots- oh, wait
And we saw a MALE MERGANSER!
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user Mdf

I also applied my olympic athletic abilities, to help push us back to the dock in 25 minutes (we'd taken 1h10m to head out before realising the place closed in 25m), but then there were three of us, so maybe it wasn't just all me.


[General] Cycling Self-Sufficiency

Another summer, another cycling season.  I've been cycling since March, but I only just today went to the Bike Centre to do some maintenance.  Largely because I have no idea what I'm doing, but I don't necessarily want to pay someone else $70-100 to look at a bike that barely costed even that much.

Thankfully, there were lots of people around to help guide me:

My gears have been making awful noises as I pedal on the highest one up hills, and someone suggested they needed oiling.  Did they ever.  They're now well oiled and silent like ninjas in the night.

My rear brake hasn't been working.  I won't show you a photo of how badly frayed the brake cable is (it won't last much longer...), but that ultimately wasn't the main barrier.  That would be the misalignment of one of my rear brake pads.  A bit of adjusting and ta-da, I have rear brakes again.

You wouldn't believe how many times I wrote 'break' instead of brake above.  Whoops.  Also, Blogger's ability to switch between <img> tags and writing text is awful!

Anyway, how to bike to work.


[Microblog] Intermittent Injuries

I use more and more band aids.


[General] Taking up drinking

After plans to have tea with a friend this evening disintegrated, I decided I needed a drink still, so I wondered the downtown until I selected @tmosphere, a hip local café.   A friend used to work there, and despite my living in Guelph for 8 of the past 11 years, I'd actually never gone in.  Today, I ordered my first cocktail ever, a tequila sunrise.

Well, without the tequila, of course. :)

HAHA, see what I did there?  Mwahaha.  I went in expecting to get my standard iced tea as a substitute for drinking alcohol alone, but the bartender suggested non-alcoholic cocktails instead.  They're 1/3 the price of the ones with alcohol, which makes me feel super special.  I intend on going through their entire menu over the course of the summer.

The weather outside is warm and lovely, and I wish I could sleep outside.  I ended up chasing the "tequila" sunrise with a Black Dragon, a cup of "Chinese black tea with oak", which was also nice.

Guelph is nice at night. :)


[Budo] I failed

I'm somewhat responsible for a kohai not passing their grading.  I just wrote about my own grading.  I have a hard time reveling in it, though, because I'm aware I failed at being a good sempai.

I mentioned in the last post that our dojo is a bit democratic, and my sensei will teach whatever we want to learn.  I wasn't too concerned about my own potential grading for nidan, but a kohai was going to be grading for shodan, and ultimately nobody paid attention enough to his iai to catch issues before it was too late.

Before you think that that's our sensei's responsibility, hold off!  He has very little interest in whether we grade or not, and has been explicit about his indifference.  He'd be content if we never graded.  He'll teach us seitei if we want to grade, but beyond that, we're responsible for our gradings.  It makes a lot of sense.

However, as someone who is still interested in grading, for now, and ahs my kohai's sempai, I should have paid attention.  I knew they were keen on grading, and perhaps I shouldn't have encouraged so many non-seitei practises in between.  Perhaps I should have offered to look at their iaido before the grading.

I'll be a more responsible sempai next time, and ensure this kohai has a fair chance at his next grading. :)

[Budo] Ni-dan

I graded in iaido at the May Seminar in Guelph this past weekend, and I passed.

I was pretty skeptical going into it, and almost didn't register.  I previously would spend more of my own free time, especially in the month and the week before, practising for a grading.  Thanks to two jobs and other preoccupations, that wasn't possible this time.

For ikkyu (1K) and shodan (1D), you get to pick 5 kata that you'll perform.  Precede and succeed that set with etiquette, and that's your grading.  I was made to understand that I almost failed my shodan (you're not supposed to know), so I was extra determined last year to be ready for nidan, and extra pessimistic the week before that I was ready to grade for nidan.   For nidan, 4 of the 5 kata you'll perform are picked for you (for me, 2,4,5,7) and you don't know which before the day of grading.  The fifth must be from koryu (from an older sword school).  (Gradings are mostly on seitei kata (standardised kendo federation kata).)

Our dojo is quite democratic when it comes to what we practise, and our sensei has interests beyond seitei iai.  He quite enjoys practising our line of koryu (Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (MJER)), jujutsu sets found in our koryu, sword for aikido, as well as Niten Ichi-ryu (two sword school from Musashi).  And in the past 6 months, we students have happily encouraged anything except seitei iai.  The last time we did Omori (the first set of iai kata in MJER) was months ago, as well.  So, not much recent practise in class for either seitei or koryu kata.  Uh oh.

The thing that probably saved me was that, before my two jobs started, I had taken to practising some iaido at home every morning for ten minutes.  I couldn't use my sword in doors, so I used my tanren bo (weighty wooden block with a handle).
When I ended up resuming seitei practise with my sword, I found it quite different from the tanren bo and started to doubt whether the extra practise would help at all.

However, at my grading, I found that my mind could clearly recall differences between the first kata in both seitei and koryu: Mae, and switching between the two was not entirely foreign.

The seminar itself was great for practise, but it was much like a cram session before an exam you haven't prepared well for the semester before.  I focused on a few issues with my iai, and left the rest to chance.  The most productive work was probably in improving my distinction between koryu and seitei.

Finally, the grading was perhaps my best performance of those five kata I've had to date.  And it was the least nervous I've been for a iaido grading yet.  (Jodo gradings are never really intimidating and feel more fun.)  A coworker asked the other week whether I ever feel nervous.  I told him no, which is mostly true of late, but I forgot about iaido gradings.  I even remembered to breathe this time.

Now that people think I'm a nidan, I should actually become one, eh?

[Budo] Knowing your sword

While at the May Iaido Seminar in Guelph last weekend, at the potluck, we watched some "home videos" from Sei Do Kai from ... 1992!  Some sensei I know were in there as beginners, which was fascinating.  Something impressive to me was one fellow, Chris Nunan, having free practise with his sword.

He wasn't practising kata, and he wasn't being particularly silly.  He just had a continuous stream of cuts, parries, ukenagashi, stepping in different directions, and it looked good.  He was familiar with his sword and working with it was natural for him.

I think I spend too much time kata in iaido and jodo.  I should have more fun and understand my sword more intimately, as I start to do with my bike, almost taking it for granted.  (But not completely, because that could be dangerous!)

[Microblog] My friend Gavin

At the recent May Iaido seminar in Guelph, a friend said of me that I am "tethered to the moon."  I like that.


[Microblog] This must be heaven

I saw the artist Heaven 17 in my music library and thought "who are they?" and as I played, I thought "This is really awesome!  It reminds me of the Human League!"  Then I thought "... is this not the Human League?"  Then Wikipedia told 2/3s of Heaven 17 was 2/4s of the Human League.  Bad memories lead to lovely rediscoveries.


[General] What's that?

This was kind of cool.  It's a 7 minute re-enactment of a court deposition, wherein
The specific deposition, which dates back to 2010, involved the Recorders' Office refusing to hand out electronic documents, but instead telling people who wanted copies of records that they had to pay for them to be printed/photocopied at $2 per page.
Apparently the Recorders' Office lost the case.

I really, really enjoy the idea of dramatic re-enactments of transcripts.  I don't even care which transcripts.  I just want to get my hands on some.

The other aspect that I enjoy about this, is thinking about that period of time wherein almost no one knew what a photocopier was to it becoming common place.  This also came up today when an employee at OMAFRA, who is 50, recalled a time when a deputy minister refused to use e-mail, so no one else in the office did, and then eventually he sent out one mass e-mail, and it was a catalyst for regular electronic communication.

People still frequently hand-wrote messages and documents, or typed them on a type-writer, or typed them on a computer (which leading up to the e-mail became common place, but people only used them for specialised purposes) and then printed them out.  The Internet and networked communication was still largely foreign.  It makes sense.  There had to be a before and an after.  It's just impressive to consider.  E-mail seems so fundamental to me.

I think I'm a bit disappointed by how much comes between me and core functions like e-mail, like text documents.  Images, pretty window frames, fancy desktops, they're all very distracting.  Blogger's compose window is nicer than a lot of editors, but it's still distracting.  I still see the tab bar.  I suppose I would enjoy maximal focus.  That can be a side-project for me, I guess.

I was speaking with my friend Peter about the rate of change of technology, futurism, transhumanism, the singularity, etc. last night.  The length of time a technology can rise up before being superseded by something better keeps getting shorter.  I feel like the life as lived today will be closer to life as it was lived five generations ago than it will be to life lived five or even three generations from now.  It's weird to think about how integral my mobile phone is to my daily life when even five years ago I was phoneless and adamantly against owning one.  (My objections were their lousy design, inadequate functionality, and abusing service plans, all of which have been addressed thanks to smart phones and WIND Mobile.)

I really cherish e-mail as a technology.  I'm sad when people communicate predominantly in a closed silo like Facebook, whose messaging platform is borders on unusable and fails to benefit from over 30 years of electronic messaging evolution.

Ah well.


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