Archive for November, 2008

Just wanna give another shout out to all those keeping my mom in their thoughts and prayers. Youse guys rock, and deserve a little update.

Although the chemo made her pretty sick, the treatments appear to be effective. Her main mass of cells appears to be shrinking already–which is all good news!

However, still some drama… the symptoms of the chemotherapy can mask the symptoms of a heart attack, which she indeed had last week. So–she’s back in the hospital right after coming home from the therapy. As of today, she’s feeling much better, and was talking her head off and quite awake and alert. She hasn’t been able to talk or eat this clearly in some time, so that’s improvement on the cancer side, and is fairly recovered from the chemo now, too.

She definitely had the proteins one gets in the blood from a heart attack, and is still experiencing some chest and shoulder pain. She’ll be undergoing a heart catheterization tomorrow (Monday) to check out the heart muscle and surrounding blood vessels to see if and/or what damage may have occurred.

We told her if she liked spending so much time at the hospital, she should just cut to the chase and become an RN or doctor. She was, in fact, amused… πŸ™‚

In other news, Dahood and I ended up dragging a deer down a big hill near one of our cousins’ places. He did not get it with his new (to him) .44 Magnum Super Redhawk. Much to his chagrin, it was gotten by the cousin with another weapon because Dave hadn’t fired the gun before, and wasn’t sure of the shot. So he hesitated, trying to decide to take the shot, and then the deer was down. A six-pointer, but not too huge.

We later did some test firing, and it shoots really nicely at 25 and 50 yards. Hopefully, we’ll see some deer jerky at some point…

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print, for right now. Cheers.


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Good little kettlebell workout tonight. Short, simple and energizing. Getting back in the swing, you know… πŸ˜‰

Started with the baby bell, then went for the middle one, and finished off with lots of cobra stretching.

– 2 minutes, each arm, LCCJ (16 kg)
– 2 minutes total, switching hands, Turkish Get Up (24 kg)
– 2 minutes each arm, Jerk (24 kg)

Then, as stated, cool down and stretching. Total time under bell: 10 minutes. With no rest except to switch out the bells and reset the timer, it got good breathing going, and some sweating. Made sure to pay attention to the form, as much as just the athleticism of muscling the thing up. Practiced getting a really good rack position in between jerks. Felt really good after. Nice.

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Looks like my friend Scott Simons is gonna be back in DC for a “Christmas” show… (buuut–you’re… oh, nevermind… πŸ˜‰ ).

Here’s a song from his new album, that was used in a WVU commercial: Start Of Somthing. Nice.

Here’s some of his work with his former bandmates, the Argument:

Enjoy. πŸ™‚

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Daily Tao

Verse 68 of the Tao Te Ching struck me (so to speak πŸ™‚ ) this morning:

In ancient days, the good soldier was not violent.
The good fighter indulged no rage.
Skilled conquerors engaged no enemy.
The best leaders exercised humility.

This is called the virtue of not contending.
This is called employing the powers of others.
This is called complying with nature’s ancient perfection.

(I recently bought this version–translation by Sam Hamill, illustrated by Kazuaki Tanahashi, published by Shambhala.)

I like this a lot, and it really resonates with me. There’s definitely a resonance with some of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, of course. And, as well, the Tao brought to life: Aikido.

I think I first read it years ago. All of my life, I’ve been in contact and/or combat sports. Frankly–I love to fight! It’s generally a joyous experience for me. How can that be? I’m generally known as “a peacemaker” by many friends and family. What is with this seeming contradiction?

The answer, of course, is this verse of the Tao (not withstanding a lot of Christian tradition, too, mind you…).

I’ve never been in a bar brawl, for instance, or really any kind of civilian simple fighting. If I love to fight, why? Because, a) even if I get angry, I don’t hate, and because if you don’t hate, then b) you feel responsible and the need to refrain from fighting because there is a good chance you could really hurt someone. You just don’t know–professional fighters are medically cleared, and still could die from the sport. Let alone some random person who may have a heart attack with a quick punch to the solar plexus, or an embolism ready to pop when you slam your forearm to the side of the head.

I don’t want to be responsible for that. So, instead, I practice with friends, and we have fun and learn stuff (and it’s been a while for that, and I miss it). But fortunately I have my fencing, which is a great use of this verse.

Fencing is incredibly vigorous, yet is one of the safest sports. You totally get that combat rush, but it for me it’s almost contradictorily in a spirit of cooperation, because even though on the surface I appear to be competing, in my mind we are partners trying to improve each other. Especially with the students at the college right now, it’s very much in the spirit of training; I just amp up or dial down my intensity depending on the skill of the student. And then we try to diagnose what happened and how to improve. So much fun.

Now, there’s so much more to this verse of the Tao than this, but this is a good starting point.

To end on a more real life note, one of the sayings I’ve read or heard at some point that really stuck with me: “A soldier doesn’t fight because he hates what’s in front of him, but rather because he loves what’s behind him.” I’ll have to look that up and see where that first came from. I really like it and I think it descends nicely from the spirit of this verse of the Tao.

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Finally got to pick them up and play a little. Only very lightly, and with no ill effects. A very short set of single-arm LCCJs, then a couple windmills. Finished off with half-TGUs, either side. Nice, and no strain.

I still feel a little stiffness or sensitivity or something deep inside the muscle tissue on my right side, lower. But I think using the bells actually helped. Well, so far, using them has helped me come back from every other injury, anyway. I just have to listen to my body.

Now if my stomach would just stop talking to me…

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Unapologetically mix The Byrds with The Doors, after marinating with Jimi Hendrix spiced with Blue Γ–yster Cult, drag the mix kicking its pointy boots into the 21st century, and you have The Aliens.

Derivative, yet somehow original, I find them lightweight, yet strangely refreshing and addictive. Like Diet Sprite…

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…that’s about the only exercise I’ve gotten for the last week and some odd days. No kettlebells for a while, alas. 😦

But I’m feeling about up to par. What happened? Well, I went with a couple co-workers to the local gym after work. I did some heavy dumbbell stuff, then was requested to join in on some Billy Blanks videos. I complied. A good little workout, but somewhere in there something in my right leg or hip “sproinged.” I felt it, but it didn’t hurt or anything. Just stretched a bit after, and figured it was a little pull or something.

But boy, the next day! My lower back locked up, and later I figured that that must’ve been to protect whatever I had pulled. I was in pain, and I never have lower back problems. I train too much goodness to have that, and it never seems to be my weak point.

The day after that, I went hiking at Sky Meadows State Park–beautiful place (where they had the Highland Games a couple months back). Nice time, good friend, gorgeous views. However, that may have been a mistake… But, I said I would be there. You know how it is. My back stiffened up so much that night I actually downed some aspirin and acetaminophen (and maybe a beer or two… πŸ™‚ ).

The next day, the morning was awful, but then I loosened up enough to go train the fencers. But again maybe I should have laid off. So for the next week or so, I pretty much didn’t do anything but sit. And occasionally walk to where I had to go, then sit for as long as possible. It’s been… strange.

This last Sunday, several of the fencing students stopped by and we had a viewing of Conan The Barbarian, which is required watching for sword people. Then an episode of Samurai Jack, the one with the Conan homage (“Jack and the Three Blind Archers”). Good time, and we viewed the movies as much of a Mako tribute as anything else.

So, after all that, I decided to go ahead and go to practice. Went pretty good. I had intended on just hanging out, giving advice, but as usual, adrenalin prevailed and I jumped in and fenced pretty heartily with three different students in a row.

Monday, I felt pretty good; most of my back was unlocked, but by gummy, it was still hard getting out of bed and getting around ’til I got more warmed up, and my right hip and just above the iliac crest would get to aching pretty good.

Tuesday (yesterday), finally, I felt like I had dramatically improved and practically bounced out of bed. Felt really good, and relatively loose, but all day it was very uncomfortable to stand in place for very long, and a long walk still made it ache.

Today, I feel really good, and I could stand for much longer, and the results of a long walk (I sometimes have to go pretty far–way across our big building, etc.) were only mildly debilitating. I’m still thinking about grabbing bell, but I’m hesitant. I really want to, but I may put it off until tomorrow.

But at least I was able to get some blood going with the fencing. Which is a good thing. Can’t weight to hit the bells again, though!!!

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