Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Time To Declare

I've given this a lot of thought, I've watched and listened to all the candidates from both parties


Barack Obama Logo

In some ways this has been one of the harder choices I have made for an election, in others, one of the easiest.

After Six + years of George Bush and company running our country into the ground the Democrats could run a hamster and get him elected (Assuming that there is an election, I notice that more of the far Right wants Bush to declare himself President For Life)

The entire field of Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, are so clueless that they think that acting like Bush is a good thing, Paul doesn't stand a chance of getting elected.

I had entertained a couple of good thoughts about Romney, but after seeing the way he turned his back on that Muscular Dystrophy victim, I realized that the guy was barely human, and we have had enough of that with Bush and Chaney.

I have to admit, I am not totally happy with any of the democrats, all of them have problem areas.

I just can't bring myself to vote for Clinton. She is just another prepackaged political robot as far as I can tell.

She would do a better job than Bush, I have no doubt of that, but I suspect she owes too much to the various special interests that have given her lots of money. Bottom line, I think she would rather be a ruler than a leader, and we have had too much of that already.

Richardson has a lot going for him, he IS from New Mexico after all :-) but I don't think he has the charisma the job will require to unite the country again.

In some ways I like Kucinich best of all, but I don't think he can win, and it is essential that America elect someone who can and will restore our democracy, and that means no more Republicans in the White House for a while.

Obama has his problems. The fact that he was working the same stage as the anti-gay preacher lost him a few points with me. One of the things I use for judging a politician is how they treat the least powerful, most disenfranchised people, and in today's America that would be illegal immigrants and gays.

What finally sold me on Obama was listening to him during the MTV MySpace interview yesterday.

He is actually willing to dialog with people, not just feed them slogans and sound bites. I came away from that interview feeling like he would do a good job, and he is not afraid to actually interact with the people he is representing.

So I came to the conclusion that I had to support him as the best one of the bunch and the one most likely to restore America to a Democracy.

So my dear readers, what I would ask you to do is this. Think of what kind of country you would like to live in, then listen to all the candidates. Listen to them beyond the canned messages and slogans, find the one that will do the best job (and I don't mean the one someone else told you was the right one) Think For Yourself, and really participate in this election. Remember, this is not a sports event, even though we often act like it is, this is the single most important thing we do as a nation. Vote for the country you want to live in, not just one issue.

The Ticket I'd like to see? Obama for President, Kucinich for VP and Richardson as Secretary of State. New York can keep Clinton.

What Planet Should you Rule?

This is Bobbe's fault

I checked his blog this morning to see if he had posted anything of note and discovered that he had declared himself Emperor of Mars. (John Carter may have an opinion on this)

OK so I am a sucker for some of these little tests.

You Should Rule Mercury

Close to sun, Mercury has very long days - and is rarely visible to the rest of the solar system.

You are perfect to rule Mercury, because you live for the present - and can truly enjoy a day that goes on forever.
Like Mercury, you are quick and elusive. Your wit is outstanding, and you can win any verbal sparring match.

Some people see you as superficial, but in truth, you just play many roles and have many interests.
A great manipulator, you usually get what you want from people. And they're happy to give it to you.

It is just a little spooky though, me being a Virgo and all.

(And NO, I don't believe in astrology. I just learned my whole chart in depth so that back in the sixties, when someone came up to me and said "Hey. Peace, Love, Hare Krishna! What's your sign?" I could tell them in in such depth and detail that their eyes would eventually glaze over and roll up in their heads as they slumped to the floor in a stupor of astrological confusion).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to make a Cheap Kettlebell

For fun and bulkiness of muscle

Some years ago, my buddy Steve Barnes showed up at my door with a new toy, a thing called a kettlebell, which was basically an iron cannonball with a handle.



We spent several hours playing with the thing and getting a feel for exactly how it might differ from conventional dumbbells.

They were a lot of fun, and we both thought that they had several advantages over conventional weights, but there was one BIG disadvantage, They were EXPENSIVE!!! I could buy a whole set of dumbbells for the price of a single 35 lb kettlebell.

I was interested in exploring this piece of equipment though, so I went out to my shop and gave the problem some thought.

I came up with a very serviceable alternative, which looks like this.

While there are one or two things that you can't do with these (they do not lend themselves to being used inverted) you can do 98% of all kettlebell exercises just fine with them.

I did a short instructional file on how to make these for some friends, but managed to misplace the thing. Well I found it tonight!

I have put it in a much safer place, and now I can share the thing with anyone who is interested and doesn't want to drop a few hundred dollars on a set of kettlebells.

Click here to download the PDF

and may you have a good time building them and a better time using them.

If you find that you have gotten value from this and saved a bunch of money you can say "thank you" by doing something like feeding someone who is hungry with a little bit of the money you saved by not paying the usurious prices charged for the commercial ones.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Perfected?

Ann Coulter Strikes again, Leah Kauffman strikes right back.

By now, most people have head Coulter's latest racist remark, that "Christians just want Jews to be perfected".

I could spend several paragraphs detailing everything wrong with and about the poster girl for bushCo and the religious right, (starting with her profound hypocrisy) but Leah Kauffman says it a whole lot better.



How much do you want to bet that at least one right wing wacko writes in to ask me why I, as a Muslim, am not "hating the Jews"?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Skype

Strange as it seems, since I started this blog I have had several requests from people to speak with me person to person.


Well, I was inspired by my friend Sophia to add a Skype button to the blog so that on the off chance that when I am online (rarely I admit) someone could reach me if that was what they wanted.

I have, I admit, just started using Skype as a communication method. I had, in times past, used Yahoo messenger, but there have been so many problems with it that I have sort of let it fall by the wayside.

In any event, I am trying this out to see how it works.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Fall Gathering of the Tribes

At an unassuming farmhouse in the backwoods of Western Michigan an event of momentous proportions takes place twice a year,

Just an uninteresting house, nothing to see here folks, just move along

The Gathering of the Tribes (Flourish of Trumpets)

This event, which has been going on for some years now has really grown, far beyond what anyone ever thought it might be.

The Gathering has become a place where martial artists and combat athletes of all levels can meet and share knowledge and experience twice a year in a safe, ego free, family friendly environment. The event has grown to such an extent that it is now an "invitational", you need to know someone who is already a participant, or a member of "The League of Nonaligned Martial Artists" (another flourish of trumpets, and perhaps cornets as well), the group that puts the event on, in order to be invited to come play now.

Friday

This gathering started the way they all do, with people arriving Friday evening for the informal "meet and greet". I cooked up a HUGE pot of coconut ginger basil curry to feed people as they arrived.

By seven or so most of us were out in the Dojo for some light sparring. There are probably other ice breakers that we could do, but there is really nothing quite as much fun as a sparring session to get reacquainted.

I did manage to accidentally catch Cody in the eye with a thumb, but that was the only downside to the evening.

We all managed to get to bed by two or so, plenty of time for sleep after the gathering.


Saturday

As per tradition, we had breakfast going by eight AM, the usual pancakes, along with giant pans of scrambled eggs (donated by Randy, Margie and Mariah)


The breakfast of Champions

After everyone was well fed we began the day.

The first session of the day was taken by RMAX Coach, Cody Fielding.

Cody did something a little different this gathering. He introduced us to a process he has been working on that involves being a competitor, coach/corner and referee.

We used some grappling as our learning vehicle and everyone took turns in all three positions.

Adam shows Buddha his impression of a reticulated python

There were pre and post match analysis of what each fighter needed to work on......

Scooter attempts to sink a guillotine on Jason

and lots of coaching during the matches. This proved to be truly useful and I am looking forward to a time when Cody will offer this model publicly.

Next up was Chuck and Don, who gave a clinic in kicking concepts.

Chuck works with Aaron on long range kicking

They worked from long range to short range and rather than working separate technique, they emphasized the principles which allow one to spar with kicks in the same manner that one would with upper body strikes.

Mariah and Aaron explore short range methods.

One of the fun things was using kicks at unusual ranges, creating unexpected attacks.

Next up for the day was Maha Guro Buzz Smith of American Maharlika Kuntaw.

Buzz is a regular at the gatherings and is one of our secret weapons against boring martial arts.

Buzz split his clinic into two parts, first he introduced us to some of his Kuntaw staff work, this would be the same staff material that helped him take first place in Masters weapons at the Sulong tournament last month

The finer points of hitting someone up-side the head are discussed

Buzz led us through the basic principles of Kuntaw staff then took us right into application.

James and Jason try out the new material for size

After the staff portion Buzz took us through some Kuntaw ground work.

Buzz demonstrates the Kuntaw version of yoga stretching

So we all returned to the Dojo and its forgiving floor to toss each other about and try different pretzel ties out.

The last formal session of the day was something rather unique. We had a teacher of Kalaripayattu, the ancient Indian martial art from Kerala join us for this gathering.

Leland leads some basic kalari forms
Leland J Belding III joined us from Kansas (and alas, the only pictures we got of him were of his back for some reason) and shared with us some of the Kalaripayattu he picked up in India.

Kalaripayattu has been described as "yoga, with hitting"

This was something delightfully different and it was greatly enjoyed. It was very interesting for those of us who practice Southeast Asian Martial Arts given the likelihood of their origins being at least in part from South India.

This ended the formal clinics for the day and it brought us to The Potluck


It was a beautiful weekend so we mostly hung out on the deck in the evenings

We dined on Satay and other wonderful goodies until we were all stuffed to the gills (yes Bobbe, the Dagon folks showed up again)


Fire (he he he)

And it wouldn't be a Gathering without a bonfire for us to sit around.

We spent plenty of casual time in the Dojo dissecting the events of the day, swapping technique and generally having too much fun.

Sunday rolled around and after another breakfast that couldn't be beat we got the day started.

This will only hurt for a moment

As usual, Sunday morning sessions are devoted to Martial Arts and healing.

This gathering we invited our friend James Kohlenberg to do a clinic on myofascial release. Using nothing more complicated than a tennis ball.

No really, it will stop hurting after a while

Being as we were all a bit sore from the previous day this was a very welcome event.

We finished the martial portion of the day with a Silat clinic given by your humble servant.


We addressed such ideas as compressed space, rotational force, turning "failure" into feedback

"Oh shit, gravity works"

And gravity as a weapon (you can even take it on an airplane or int a government building and no one gets upset)

A flock of pigeons

We ended the day by having Cody lead us in some CST active recovery material from Presara Yoga.

The Group
And here is the obligatory group photo. It is not everyone, but we have never manages to get us all in the same room for one of these yet.

I am already looking forward to the Spring!

Back

(With a Vengeance)

For the last while I have been without a computer to call my own (insert sounds of soft weeping and heavy sighs in background) and so my blog entries and email have suffered greatly.

The sad thing about electronics is that they occasionally destruct in spectacular and inconvenient ways, and we must endure as best we can. (more sighs here)

Well, things have changed for the better and I am no longer a member of the computerless underclass! (digitally homeless as it were, crashing on the virtual couches of my friends)

So, as I begin to catch up on my blog entries, private messages, email that I have not been able to get to and all the projects that have been setting on the back burner, I want to thank all the people who have helped me in various ways.

They would be, in no particular order
Bobbe
Janet
Randy, Margie, and Mariah
Jeanne
Chuck
Steve B
Steve VH
Buddha
Cody and Wes
Alex
David

These are the people to thank (or blame) for my being able to stay in contact and for me being back online.

I thank you, and I am sure my many fives of fans thank you!