November 10, 2008

Beginner’s tip: know your distances. There is a range for kicking, a range for striking, and a range for grappling. There’s no set measure for ranges. It depends on the individual style and the focus of that style. Know your distances. Your style, your body type, your mentality all contribute to what your distances are. Distance determines what to do–whether to bridge, to step in, or to retreat–and how to do it. It’s a good idea to know all aspects of a fight, from the footwork to the ground work, but not all styles are complete in this manner. One can either choose to pick up a complementary style, or work around the lackings. The latter path means constant repositioning is necessary in a fight in order to maintain the ideal range. It goes without saying that a strong understanding of distances is paramount to doing this well. After all, if someone can do in one move what you need two to do, you’ve put yourself at a significant disadvantage.

I might be training a little too hard recently. Old injures are starting to flare up again. The silver lining is that the pain is in the right places this time. Last time, I had pain in completely unrelated places, which meant I really, really screwed something up, to the point where parts of my body that shouldn’t be in pain were. But parts of by body are still screaming, and that’s never a pleasant feeling, whether the body part has a right to do so or not.

On top of that, I’m going to be stuck with Pug and Poodle for a week. So long as they don’t force me into action, I think I will survive. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

The good news is, I’m looking forward to Black Friday this year. There probably won’t too many good deals, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick up a big Lego set from Target. They typically have one or two big sets on sale every Black Friday, and I’m hoping one of these will be from the 2009 Pirate line. I’m also looking to pick up a camera. I know Red is announcing their DSLR killer, but I need a decent point-and-shoot. I’m still hoping Red’s new thing (or one of their new things) will be a good, small camcorder. But Red is good at camcorders. I’m looking for something I can stick into my pocket.

To that effect, I’ve picked out the Panasonic LX3. It is no Fuji F31 in terms of low-light sensitivity, but it does have 24mm at F2.0 and raw output, which means it might not need ISO800 in the same situations the F31 does. Its ISO800 compares well to the F31’s ISO1600, so I think it’s comparable. And it does 720p24 movies. I’m not sure how useful the movie feature will be if I get a Red camcorder, but at least if Red’s new thing isn’t to my liking, I can stick with the LX3. The only bad thing is that it’s zoom is to 60mm, which is paltry compared to 140mm or 175mm of other P&S cameras, but I suppose I can’t have my cake and eat it too. At least it’s not a lie.

So despite recent economic woes, I’m looking to spend a shitload of money in the next 3 months. I’m getting depressed just thinking about it.

Some Updates

September 29, 2008

I updated the cast of characters page to reflect some of the new students who have joined PKFS, and to fill in some of the blanks for SKFS and OKFS.

Also, there’s quite a bit of drama waiting to happen at PKFS involving some of the new students, and I wouldn’t be able to talk about it without an updated list of names. Over the past two or so years, Pug has assembled her own little clique among the girls in the school. I’ve long had the feeling that it’s a firecracker just waiting for a spark to ignite it. With Sparky’s recent inclusion into the clique, I have a bad feeling about it all. I’m not going to make baseless accusations; it could just end up being a stupid high school thing despite almost all of the women being well beyond the high school phase. But I’ve seen some disturbing behavior coming from some of the other members over the past several days in response to an incident between Sparky and Shorty. I guess I’ll just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

I just realized my post “Green Bamboo Snake” is gone. I wrote it up, hit “publish” and it isn’t that the action didn’t go through, but the post got into the system with no content. This sucks.

Day 2 of my return.

September 5, 2008

I think I have to start putting up links to the tidbits I am referring to. As well, I think it will help illustrate some of my points better if I linked to things like movies and pictures. I suspect most people have some kind of system that employs a notepad or some such where they paste all of the interesting links they might encounter. It is pretty difficult, albeit not impossible, to find things a second time on the WWW. Using TOR only makes the situation worse. Actually, using TOR reminds me of the good old days when I was connected using a 28.8 modem. Back then, it was twice the speed of what most of my contemporaries used. Except back then, a web page was pretty much just some text and maybe a background graphic or two. The organization of the text more or less determined the quality of the website design. There’s so much more stuff these days. Even wikipedia, with as simple an interface as there is out there, is pretty complicated. And now, it’s all about standards and such. Back then, you really could code entire sites with notepad.

Anyway, I don’t mean to digress into some nostalgic piece of my youth, but I think putting up links will help.

I noticed that a lot of the old classic Star Wars sets are back up on Lego S@H. For example, sets like the X-wing and Hoth Rebel Base were gone from S@H for quite a long time, while the AT-AT had disappeared for a better part of this year. Now they’re back. Here’s hoping they’ll bring more of the old sets like those from ’06 and ’05 back. They don’t have to be Star Wars-themed either.

I’m starting to get disenfranchised with PKFS. I don’t know why. It’s fun there. I like most of the people, and I like what we do, especially some of the things we’ve started doing. But, I’ve been feeling a something lacking for the past few weeks. It feels…shallow, repetitive, tiresome. Yes, I know practice is supposed to be repetitive. It’s hard work. I know that from SKFS. But SKFS is gratifying, because I do have a method to measure my progress. It’s the same as OKFS. In PKFS, the closest thing I have to telling me how good I am is the number of form I’ve completed or I’m learning. Quite frankly, that doesn’t really cut it for me. Heck, I don’t even know what is the number of the highest form I know.

It has never disturbed me before. I’ve always thought of this measurement as irrelevant to my presence at PKFS. That everyone else uses this as a measure of how good they are and even how good I am never really bothered me either. I don’t know why I’m growing so restless. I’ve lost my inspiration perhaps. Or more likely, my recent enormous growth and progress at both OKFS and SKFS over the past month or three has resulted in my lack of progress at PKFS looking bad in comparison. And I’m not talking forms-wise, because between the three schools, I seriously have more forms and more techniques than anyone else in all three schools, including Senior. It’s just that while PKFS contributes to my mnemonic knowledge, I wonder whether any of what I do there really contributes to my kung fu.

On the political front, I caught someone unfurling a banner at the RNC that said something along the lines of McCain doesn’t care about our vets. The camera quickly switched away, and the person was being apprehended as the camera showed it. But I have to admit, McCain hasn’t mentioned a thing about our veterans, and their health and safety when they come home. It’s sad, that we send these 18 to 20-something year-old boys and girls out there to fight for our country, and then we discard them when they come back defective, like they were just our nation’s toys or some such. Maybe McCain’s experience during the Vietnam conflict has made him adverse to helping out his fellow veterans. Maybe it’s because he was abandoned, or perhaps because he didn’t receive decent medical treatment himself, or perhaps he figures if he can weather the hard times after he came back that everyone else can, but whatever his reason might be, completely disregarding the issue of the poor treatment of soldiers injured in the line of duty says a lot about what he really cares about. And it really doesn’t seem to be the people who are in some way whole and perfect no longer.

Anyway, I had hoped to keep this short so that I might sleep earlier as I do every other time I write, but it is proving to be difficult.

I’m back (again?)!

September 4, 2008

I must blame my lack of updates this past year on a lack of time. That doing this through TOR is worse than trying to squeeze blood out of a stone doesn’t help much. I actually have two major articles in draft form, regarding martial arts. I might have to update them a bit, but they are still as relevent a year ago as they are today.

Actually, more than anything, the recent acceptance speech by Republican VP Nominee Sarah Palin has prompted me to come back. Considering that most of the guys in OKFS are over 60 and don’t speak English well, and most of the people currently frequenting PKFS aren’t of the politically savvy variety, this is unfortunately the only way to get this off my chest. I think picking Sarah Palin to be his VP is John McCain’s idea of being a maverick. With all the scandals surrounding her, scandals that otherwise would have immediately flatlined any Democratic campaign, you really have to wonder if McCain actually put any reality into the decision, or if he saw the most strategically-sound proposal on paper and went for it without so much as looking at the facts beforehand. Does this sound familiar yet? If this deciding-before-having-all-the-facts behavior is indicative of the kind of maverick John McCain actually is, I sincerely wonder if he’s the right kind of maverick. Even if he is interested in change, just as much as Obama, I have to ask whether as president, he’ll make the right decisions, or the ones he thinks is right.

That’s really all I have to say about the matter. I will be voting for Obama. Hope, like prayer, alone isn’t enough to protect or save this country. But unlike prayer, hope is better than nothing.

As for kung fu news, I’ve recently come to several fascinating revelations. The idea of circles has become even more abstract, because with the most recent revelation, I’ve come a full circle, from hard, to soft without hardness, now back to hard again, but with softness, and softness with hardness. It’s really a concept that must be felt; it’s difficult to explain, especially in English. And it’s practically impossible to understand without reaching the point of being soft without being hard. I’ll write something on it. I’m sure out of every dozen people who’ll read this, ten will say they understand, offer their interpretation, but not really understand, one will not understand and start asking questions, and one will just not say anything. That’s how it always is.

I am no longer bothered by the little feuds and arguments at PKFS. The particular breed of dog that was giving me trouble in the past no longer associates with me, and I do not associate with dogs. Anyway, I’m not an animal-lover, so I have no inclination to do unnecessary things like give animals a personality or attempt to treat them in the same way I might treat a fellow human. I have respect for life itself, and the desire and will to live inherent in every living creature. But I don’t try to discuss current events and politics with them. Anyhow, I think we’ve come to a mutual understanding, give or take, facilitated by something that still lingers between us. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it most likely is a good thing, probably left over from our better days when we were more acquainted. We do vehemently deny its existence in front of everybody, but when nobody’s looking… That’s how I feel anyway. And that’s all I’m really going to say about it.

There are other feuds brewing. I really don’t want to politicize the place. Please leave the politics outside the door. I swear, if I catch even the slightest hint of people starting to rally behind me, I will smack them down hard and then if they don’t stop, I will leave. Politics has no place in any of the schools, and that’s that. At the same time, if people start rallying behind other people who are at odds, I won’t let things get too far either. My ultimate allegiance? To Sifu. Other than that, everyone is fair game.

On the video game front, Spore is out. I think. I’m downloading it anyway, so it must be out, right? Ugh. I can’t keep track of things when things get released in the scene before the street date.

And well, I’m looking forward to checking out the COWON S9. It is by far the most interesting PMP since the iPod Touch. Obviously, I’m not going to get one if it sucks. But it has promise. So we’ll see. It might actually be my first real PMP. I put this in a lot of categories. That’s what happens when I don’t write anything for a year, and suddenly have all sorts of stuff to write about. Hopefully, I’ll be getting better at frequent updates and not worse.

Still alive.

October 11, 2007

Yup, I’m still alive. I have a few long entries in draft form. Articles, I would prefer to call them, but they’re entries nonetheless. Not that anyone really reads this. Ergo, no one cares at the moment, but I still should account for my absence, if only for posterity…

I’ve been busy. Working. Sleeping. Taking up new hobbies and learning new crafts. I’m going to learn how to carve wood. That way, I can create a wooden model of the sword hilt that I’m designing. From there, I’ll send it over to China where I can get it made for cheap, and made well at that. And then, we’ll see where that goes.

Things have gotten interesting since my last entry. Poodle disappeared for most of the summer. And things seem to have changed after their little vacation. I’m not sure what it is, and I’m not sure I like it, but what the hey, it’s none of my business anymore.

Anyway, the interesting part comes from the few new students at the PKFS, as well as increased recognition for the SKFS. It seems a prominent name in the kung fu world wants to meet Sigung. Which can be a double-edged sword. I hope to be there when they meet. I hope things will turn out well, but there’s always that chance…

As for the two new students, I sometimes wonder if I actually was like them in the beginning. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. I already had the foundations when I began learning; the concepts of chi and ging were things I had “discovered” on my own when I was much younger. It comes from having a natural inclination, a genetic desposition for athletics. And, it came from not having brute strength. These new students have showed me exactly how much work it is to train someone from scratch, and exactly how far I’ve come since I began. Senior has props from me for building up my foundation well. At the same time, it’s quite frustrating when they simply don’t get something that’s so natural to me. That, and when they don’t remember… I must’ve said this several times already, since we’ve had a steady flow of new students in PKFS over the past two years. This’ll be the last time, until they get to where I am now, and I can say, ha, it only took me half that time…

I’ve improved over the summer. Slightly. I think. I recently took a break from everything. And the first day I was back, I could feel a little of the power that I had before my injury. And then, it was gone. It’s depressing. But at the same time, it means that if I work at it, I can get it back, permanently.

These days, the hottest tech item is the iBrick. I think this will be a kink in Apple’s road to success. They’re trying to be the control freaks that they’ve always been. It didn’t work with Macs. It’s not going to work with the iPhone. The iPod is not an exception. In actuality, it is the one thing that Apple didn’t lock in. The iPod supports mp3’s. If it only supported AAC, no one would’ve bought one, regardless of how “cool” it might’ve seem to have one. In order for the iPhone to reach the levels of success the iPod has, Apple needs to open it up, development-wise. Or it just won’t compete well in the marketspace Apple is targetting, i.e. mid-range, almost-smart-phone, all-in-one.

Now, the iPod Touch is real interesting. But until they slap a real HDD onto it, and maybe allow 3rd party games, it’s not worth so much as a penny in my book.

Looks like Guiliani is going to have a little trouble getting the presidency if he wins the primaries, which I’m forecasting he will win. The neocons don’t like his pro-choice stance, and they’re the ones who carried Bush in ’00 and ’04. It’s going to be a Democrat president, likely Hillary, but not necessarily. It very well could go to Obama or even Edwards. I’ve got this fantasy that the neocons are finally going to split from the Republican party that they’ve dragged down. If that happens, Democrats aren’t going to rule for long though, as the radical left elements are going to leave a bitter aftertaste in the center’s mouths, and we might even see a split of the Cali-left from the Democrats there. That might be for the best, and we might just finally end the bipartisan system that’s plagued the US government since Washington’s second term ended. Or, the neocons might realize that they won’t have a voice anymore, and somehow come back stronger than ever… Which would spell the utter demise of the US.

Finally, I’m going to point to this really cool Lego set that just came out: a scale model of the Millenium Falcon. It costs $500, and is some 3000 pieces, but it looks awesome. As soon as I have some money, I’ll be picking up one for myself.

I’m Back!

May 13, 2007

I’m bored.

It’s been a while since my last entry. Typically, this statement marks the decline and eventual abandonment of a blog. I’ve seen my share of such. I’m not one for trends though. While I’m not anti-trendy or such, I won’t follow a fad just because everyone else is doing it. And while generally, I find myself an exemplary specimen of the typical human when viewed as a whole, I’m going to diverge from the norm this one time.

Why? I’m upset. And annoyed. My little fight with a certain member of the PKFS is taking its toll, psychologically. I have an unpublished post, probably from after the new years wound down and the sheer magnitude of lion dances diminished. It had something to do with a story I heard. But more so, I titled it “The Green Snake” and wrote a little poem at the end:


Which leads me to believe that I intended to write about a new development in the aforementioned fight with this certain PKFS member. At the moment, I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to write about. And since the title and poem are the only indications in the entire post that I was going to write about her, I’m not even going to try to remember.

It’s not really a fight; it’s really my fault. Though the truth is, if this ever ends and we ever make up, she’s going to insist it was her’s. Fuck her. This began by my hands, and I’d be a worse prick than Senior and Junior combined if I let her take any of the blame.

I can begin at the very beginning, but that’d take too much time. Instead, I’m going to begin at the beginning of the end. To put it simply, I did something I shouldn’t have: I violated her personal space against her will. And while reality was nowhere nearly as bad as what that previous statement could imply, it might as well have been. I apologized, sort of. And I tried to make amends. Sort of. She’s the type to hold a grudge, and even though many would say she overreacted, I think her response justified. Not that I tried very hard to make up with her. I have my pride, and I have my comfort zone. While I can put down my pride with a bit of effort, what I perceived to be her requirement for a sufficient apology clearly was beyond my comfort zone.

Anyway, in the intervening months, I treated her poorly, despite my poor standing with her. It wasn’t so much because she was mad at me and I wanted to somehow get back at her. It was that the things she did or did not do just because of my recommendation and her grudge against me, regardless of the consequences, that irked me to no end. It disgusts me when people let petty things get in the way of important matters. Regardless of my reasons, what I said and did was insult to injury, and only increased this debt I’ve been slowly accruing over this past year.

I made a last attempt at resolving things with her. In the end though, I think I managed only to push her farther away. That’s my failure. I only hope I’ll be able to make things right again. It’s ok with me if she’s going to remain mad at me for the rest of our lives. But I cannot let my apologies slide. And I’ve so far been unable to do it. I said earlier that I’m upset and annoyed. I’m upset that with every attempt at an apology, I’ve only managed to distance us further. I’m annoyed that I haven’t yet figured out how to approach this problem. But what I’m most upset and annoyed at is this foolish pride that’s keeping me from doing what I want to do.

What does this have to do with my return? Nothing. Everything. I don’t know. What I do know is that things will be picking up now that I’ll be able to train without being constantly dogged by these concerns. New years would have been far more fun had this shadow not darkened our time as a group. And to be able to, if only briefly, rid myself of this burden will be refreshing. Yes, Pug and Poodle will be gone for a good two weeks, while Hung will be gone for a month.

On a lighter note, I’ve been improving at a rate that surprises even me. I’ve also been injuring myself at a rate that’s rather annoying too. Regardless, I’m satisfied at where I’m headed. There’s far more for me, both in external and internal power, and in experience. When I sparred for the first time in SKFS some weeks ago, it was among the most rewarding experiences in the recent months. To say the least, sparring with them showed me exactly where I was in many respects, and exactly where and how I need to improve. The laundry list is long, and I get really excited just thinking about it.

The truth is, even before new years, I’ve felt rather nonchalant about training kung fu. I’ve learned more, but it seemed as though other aspects of my life were more worthy of my time. And so I neglected my training for a long time. As well, I neglected this blog. But now with this newfound direction, and these few weeks of freedom from my concerns, I plan to train hard, and get even farther than I have over the first five months of 2007.

Pre-Chinese New Year Update

February 11, 2007

It has been some time since I last wrote anything, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, Chinese New Year is coming up very soon, and our training at PKFS has largely turned to practicing lion dance routines. While we’ve had several lion dances already for various Chinese New Years parties, our time has largely been spent training overtime–trying to squeeze in as many puzzles and such as possible before the real party begins. As such, I doubt I’ll have much time–if at all–to update during the height of the lion dance season, as we like to call it. I’m forcing myself to write this as it is.

I realize I ended the previous entry on a sour note, and I’d very much rather not carry such things over to the new year. In fact, things have largely normalized, besides my strained relationship with Pug and Poodle, if it can be described as a relationship at all. That, by and large, has made this year’s lion dances a little awkward. I think we’ll survive though. Pug might get upset at my involvement in certain affairs that she might thing were her province, but I firmly believe that getting upset is her problem. I’m not trying to be spiteful, or some sort of donkey, but I’m not about to expend extra energy working around her mostly-justified but still annoyingly unproductive discomfort around me. What needs to be done needs to be done, and if I can’t enlist her assistance, that just means I’ll have to work a little more and a little harder. Fortunately, there’ll always be people willing to help, if not for me, then for Sifu and the school.

In other news, Sifu decided to split Hung and Ching up this year, for some reason. He’s paired Hung with Pug, and Ching with myself. Not a particularly big deal, except that the pseudonyms I’ve created for them can no longer be a source of nearly as much amusement. Ah well.

Much has happened during my period of absence that I’m bursting at the seams with thoughts and comments. Without much time to complete this entry though, I’m just going to breeze though them. I believe the largest thing in this period is the “bomb” scare in Boston over a marketing stunt by Cartoon Network. The idiots there thought some flashing LED boards in the image of cartoon characters were bombs, and treated them as such. The worst part is, even after they were called out as idiots for thinking these obviously unsophisticated pieces of electronics could somehow turn Boston into a raging inferno, the top politicians and officials continue to insist they were right, to the point of calling it a “hoax” and arresting and charging the two guys working for the marketing firm who actually put up the light displays. I don’t think the word means what those idiots think it means, as many others have noted before me. Anyway, what really occurred is that the idiots got called out on being idiots for the overreaction, which made them mad. In turn, they’ve shifted the blame to Cartoon Network, the marketing firm, and the two poor saps who built the light displays and went around town putting them up. By doing so, they’re denying that the unwarranted overreaction was at all their fault, and that somehow, based on the fact that there’s an epidemic of terrorist attacks in the US, it’s perfectly justified to call in the big guns for some flashing lights powered by a small battery. Sounds familiar, right? Might as well just call them WMD’s and use them to justify the war in Iraq. The most absurd part is that the CEO of Cartoon Network’s resigned because of this mess. I think those idiots in Boston should resign next, but that might be too much to hope for.

In other “news” (because it’s actually old), Vista was released into the wild. Apparently, it’s built-in antivirus program sucks. Not surprised at all. Supreme Commander is going to ship soon, and I’m really psyched about Spore, which should come out around the time I finish SupCom’s single player. Final Fantasy XII has been my recent source of electronic entertainment, but I near completing that, and I’ll soon be in need of a game. I think that’s all I can think of for now. There’s stuff that deals with Steve Jobs on DRM that I think is utter BS, and rumors that EMI is about to release some of its music in MP3, and I can go on and on for a while about the whole thing, but all I’m going to say is that iTunes probably isn’t going to sell MP3’s regardless.

I also had something to say about security and privacy, but I’m going to leave that can of worms for another day. Obviously, being an anonymous blog, this is a big deal. So I’ll return to the subject another time, preferably when I can present my arguements in a coherent manner.

On a more personal note, my family keeps changing the New Years dinner date… Indecision is the hallmark of one side of my family, and it has the potential to really interfere with my lion dance schedule. Family comes first, of course, so whatever day they pick, I’m still going to go. However, I wish they wouldn’t come to a decision only at the very last minute, utterly nullifying my existing plans and reducing my credibility with the others at PKFS.

It is also getting particularly close to that day of the year. I don’t have plans to spend it with anyone, even though there actually is one person… It would make me very happy if I could spend that evening with her, if only for a dinner, but I’m almost certain she’s beyond my reach now. One can still dream though, and dream I most certainly do…