Happy New Year

As the year comes to a close, I'd like to thank all of you who read this blog on a (semi-) regular basis. I hope you enjoy reading it almost as I enjoy the writing.

I'd like to say thanks to a few people who helped me get things rolling. I figure now is as good a time as any to give credit where it's due...

Harvey - Thanks for getting me started on this blogging thing. Your help has been invaluable as has your advice on the tupperdor/baggiedor.

Brian - I appreciate the spotlight & the flattering review of my site. Keep up the great work on yours & yes, the excellent commentary!

Scott - Thanks for your input & letting me bounce ideas for posts off your head.

James - Thanks for your comments & START A BLOG ALREADY! You've got a lot to say.

All the students/instructors at CVDA - Without out you guys, I'd have nothing constructive to do nor anything to write about it.

Master Matt Rion - What can I say? You're a great teacher, a mentor & trusted friend. I appreciate you allowing me to be the first black belt promoted at your school. It's an honor I'll treasure my whole life.

I wish all of you out there a happy & prosperous new year. May all of your beer be rich, your friends likewise (so you can mooch if needed) & your blogs witty.



I am sooo eager to get back to class! We've had the last week off & of course will be off 1/1 for the New Year. It's good to have the break but I need to get back into the mix!

I did work on some of the warm-ups in GM Wallace's book. It's a lengthy workout, even for the stretching. I guess that's because taking your time helps prevent injury.

Testing will have to be a priority for me in the next few months. My best guess is I'll be going for 2nd Dan near the end of April. There's nothing set in stone but I still need to be prepared for when Master Rion tells me it's time.

I'll probably test for recommended black belt in Hapkido between now & April so that's another concern. I think most of my techniques & skills are solid from white to purple. All well & good, but I'd better put some focus on brown & high-brown if I'm going to do well. My current set (red) is doing well enough. All I need there is to refine the techniques a little & I'll do just fine.

Groundfighting will probably be part of this. That's a challenge with one of our senior belts - he's in the National Guard & big on Modern Army Combatives. There's not much chance I can beat him but 1/2 the fun is in trying!

Can you tell I'm just a bit eager to get back into it? ;-)


Whose The Devil, Again?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is refusing to renew the broadcast license for Venezuela's second largest TV station. He stated the license expires March 2007 & will not be renewed due to the station's leanings, "against the dignity of the republic".


This left-wing idol of a president has the nerve to call our Commander-In-Chief "the devil"? For all the griping from liberals about lost liberties in this country (normally to assault the Patriot Act), I've heard not a one of them register a complaint in response to Chavez's censoring of an entire media outlet.

Certainly you'd think hardcore left-wing organizations like the BBC would have a strong opinion on this.

You'd be wrong.

The linked article shows that the BBC doesn't seem to have much of a problem with Chavez shutting down a station similar to theirs. That is, one that attempts to undermine leadership of which they don't approve. Score one for "freedom" of speech.



I bought this one on DVD the other day & yeah, I'm impressed with it.

The movie isn't exactly like you'd think. Jet Li's character, Huo Yuanjia, is mostly a two-bit loser in the younger part of his life: He doesn't obey his father, misunderstands the concept of learning his family's "wushu" & acts as much a child as his young daughter.

Later, a young man whispers in his ear that Hou cannot defeat the man's godfather, Master Chin. Compounding this, one of Huo's students is severely beaten by Chin. Huo takes this as a challenge to fight and, without asking any questions, leaves immediately to confront Chin at Nong Jinsun's restaurant.

The fight between the two has longer lasting repercussions for both families involved & the tragedy that ensues jerks Huo violently into adulthood - in his 30s.

The movie is excellent. Period. If you haven't seen it & appreciate martial arts or even just a great story which finds it's way into patriotic themes, you need to rent/buy this one immediately.

Gears Of War

I got this one for Christmas this year. It's a very intense 3rd-person shooter that involves you being freed from a prison to fight in a world where subterranean monsters are taking over. Not exactly the time where you want to be granted parole, but at least it's an opening premise...

Let me just say this game is HARD! The only break you really get - strangely enough - is during boss fights. Most of the bosses are simple enough to figure out quickly & they don't pound on you too hard if you're careful. The rest of the game has a fervent intensity that won't allow your guard to drop for even a moment.

The basic enemies are really well-adapted to the environment & the AI performs brilliantly even when your tactics border on perfection. Rarely do you get an easy, open target. Most of your success is dependent on out-maneuvering or out-smarting your enemies. Even then you may not survive.

One of the worst creatures are the Kryll. These bat-like monstrosities will rip you to shreds if you go out of the light. Folks who have seen Pitch Black will see a striking resemblance.

The game makes you pay for your mistakes & keeps the pace going constantly. It's been a long wait for this title & it's been well worth it.


The Appellate court upheld the hanging execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Look, whether you're for the execution is not really relevant, IMO. Those who scream "martyr!" fail to realize that alive or dead, Hussein has the support of Baath zealots who will use Saddam's death or life internment as a motivating "justification" for their cause.

Cox & Forkum has linked to a CNN article which quotes Hussein's chief defense attorney as saying they're, "not surprised by this crazy ruling", that came from, "an illegitimate & unconstitutional court". Ah yes, let's question the legitimacy of everything for which we don't have approval. Never mind that his client is a mass-murderer with no regard for human life. It's becoming an all too familiar tactic that's largely embraced by the media & the extreme left - Let's make the perpetrator of the crime seem like the victim.

To me the result of this execution will be evident: This world is infinitely better off without despots like Hussein in it. I'm not immediately concerned with the power of this instance to deter future dictators. This trial dealt directly with Saddam, not the world. The purpose was holding to account a man accused of horrible crimes against his own people. He was judged to be guilty & justice will be served to the Iraqi people.


President Gerald Ford

I was saddened to hear of President Ford's passing on December 26, 2006. Although I was born on the day after he took the oath of office on August 9, 1974 & didn't have firsthand knowledge of his presidency, from the history on this man he is someone to be respected & admired.

I wish his family all the best & hope they can take solace in the fact this excellent human being lived a long life of character & dignity. My prayers are with them.

Rest in peace, Mr. President. You will be missed.


For Our Troops

It really wouldn't be right if this blog didn't wish all our men & women in uniform a Merry Christmas.

For those of you who are serving and have served the United States both at home & overseas, this young veteran thanks you for your courage, patriotism and the noble sacrifice that both you & your families are making during this Holiday season.

Truly, without all of you defending our freedom & serving as a beacon of hope & goodwill towards the entire world, none of us would enjoy this precious liberty only our men & women in uniform can provide.

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah & a safe, prosperous New Year.

Class (Yellow Belt Drama)

Wednesday class was interesting on a few levels. Of note: This is the first class I've completely ran solo as an assistant instructor. Master Rion took the senior belts downstairs & I worked with White, Yellow & Orange belts.

Just to give you a point of reference, I consider myself to be overly fair & patient when instructing. My philosophy is to educate first, discipline second. Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than people who assume everyone knows the rules.

Let's start with the Orange belts (RHIP, right?). Overall, excellent. True, most of them are adults & are in the class because they want to learn, want to work out, etc. This group followed instructions & with the exception of a couple young kids, showed perfect bearing. I think we got a lot done & the adults really appreciated the exercise before the Christmas break.

Moving on to the Yellow belts. Oh, where, where, where to start with this motley bunch? Well, none of them wanted to follow the rules. This sometimes happens when Master Rion isn't around, so I was prepared for it. I lined them up, organized them & made sure they showed proper respect for the school. No, I didn't lay into them with push-ups & such (remember my philosophy?). Now that they know where I stand, push-ups most definitely will be involved if there's a "next time".*

One incident I should mention: a young Orange belt tried to "pull rank" on a young Yellow belt. Folks, I *don't* tolerate that crap! I calmly explained to the young fellow that rank is NOT for lording over others. I will never do that as a black belt & won't tolerate it from any subordinate rank. It's disrespectful. Rank must be earned every day it is worn, not thrown around like a chew toy.

The White belts - the least experienced group - had the best behavior. No exceptions. I wish I could get more students to act this way. They followed instructions, enjoyed themselves & worked very hard. If this were grade school, I'd give them a gold star!

* - Now that I think about it, maybe 8-count body builders would be a better idea...

Honor Not Allowed

Ah, Massachusetts. Land of liberals, failed presidential campaigns & now liberal policies that encourage failure

It seems that students in Needham High School will no longer get their just recognition for excellence. According to their principal, Paul Richards, thinks it brings about, "an unhealthy focus on grades".

Uh oh! How dare we think about kids focusing on grades? Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? I'm going to explain this as clearly as I can:

Grades. Reflect. Learning.

It's really not more complicated than that. I can bet you dimes to dollars (that's ten to one for leftists) the student who earns an 'A' or 'B' has a far better grasp of a subject than a 'D' or 'F' pupil. Thus far, no one has taken me up on my get-rich-quick scheme...but I'm holding onto hope.

What would be nicer for a student who worked hard all year to do his/her best than to see the recognition of that effort in their local paper? Sure, it's not as great as the grades they've earned but they should be afforded that brief moment in the sun.

The principal also claims that we're in, "this high expectations, high achievement culture". Please. We're talking about the same school system that doesn't want to give failing grades, offers to build "esteem" through a carrot (no stick) approach & strips simple, competitive games (dodgeball, anyone?) from school yards. Yes, I do know a teacher with these concerns...why do you ask?


Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah as well!

Yes, I'm using "Merry Christmas".

No, I'm *not* using "Happy Holidays" nor any other dumbed-down politically-correct piece of tripe. If for some reason my Christmas wish offends, then I recommend the following action:

1) Refer to my very first post on 10/3/2006.

2) Realize you won't have any luck changing my sentiments.

For the rest of you folks out there: May you, your family & friends have a wonderful Christmas, a happy Hanukkah & a blessed New Year!


Snapped Shot

Brian of Snapped Shot recently commented on one of my posts. Being the ever-grateful blogger for positive input, I checked out his site.

You should too. Excellent commentary, well-written & definitely worth your time.


Enough With the $!&* Hitler References!!!

Joy Behar on "The View" claimed Time magazine should have used a "Hitler type" & put Donald Rumsfeld on the cover as Man of the Year.

Enough of this inappropriate comparison to Hitler, people! Unless someone can demonstrate that an individual planned to systematically eliminate an entire people from the face of this earth, leave the references to that sick, twisted, perversion of humanity in the grave with him.

Honestly, it seems like every time the far-left doesn't like someone, out comes the Hitler reference. The irony, of course, is that these same relativists would have no stomach to confront & combat that sort of evil.

I can only imagine these same people in World War II times screaming for President FDR's head because "Germany never attacked us" & how we "rushed to war". Evil must be confronted. Period. Europe doesn't have the stomach. The UN is inept & ineffectual. Yes, the majority of our "allies" disagree with our position in the War on Terror. This lack of acquiescence does not mean we're wrong in our course of action.


Freedom of Speech (No Offense!)

Check out the link at the end of this post. Nice to see that freedom of speech is so valuable if you're bashing America or trying to make threats of violence against the president but meaningless if CAIR takes satire out of context.

I read Frank J's editorial a few weeks ago & yeah, it mockingly talks about violence. No harm there. It can be expected (blogosphere being as big as it is) that someone's going to look at said satire & think, "Hey! That's a good idea". Whether you agree with that person it serves no purpose to limit free speech in the name of not rocking the boat.

So we have one blog shut down for having an opinion counter to CAIR - an organization which, IMO, serves only to shove political correctness so far down our gullet that we have no choice by to choke on it - and threats to go after IMAO for using (*gasp*) humor.

I'll Have a Coke With That

Has anyone ever smoked a full-bodied cigar (Montecristo Afrique Jambo Jambo in this case) & drank a Coke?

Well, if you haven't, my friend, let me tell you what you're missing!

It takes any lingering bitterness (wasn't much with that cigar, though) & takes it right out. What you get is an even fuller flavor from the Coke. That's pleasure, there...

Sweet Gift!

My friend Liz & her fiance, Mickey, bought me a nice bottle of Shiraz for Christmas this year. I'm a big wine drinker & cigar smoker. Fortunately, I'm much more particular with cigars than wine.

I can't wait to open this bottle! I wonder if it would go well with my Montecristos? That should be a nice marriage of flavors.

Speaking of marriage, the cute couple also gave me a framed engagement photograph. Yeah, I knew I was getting the photo, but never expected the frame! Two gifts for me. Woo hoo!


Gotta Get Outta This Place!

The plans to get out of the corn & pig hole to the deep south are moving along nicely. Surprisingly, I received an e-mail from one of my sis' friends, Ashley (told me to call her "Smashley" - don't ask) trying to push me in that direction.

Of course, I'm not stupid (No! REALLY). I realized that no one's just going to come on out & say, "Hey, stranger-I've-never-met, move on down here. It's fun"! There had to be an ulterior motive. Sure enough, it only took me five minutes to find out.

My sister wants to have Smashley as a room-mate when I get down there. Right now, she lives with my brother, Matt, & our Mother in a nice townhouse. I'd take over her share of the rent (more if I heard right on how much she pays) when I moved down there.

Again, I'm no dummy. It stands to reason that I'll need a place of employment outside the bowels of Hades - I mean Iowa - to provide uninterrupted income. Fortunately, I had two people who unwittingly volunteered themselves. Yep, Shannon & Ashley.

I forwarded them my resume & told them to get cracking. Yeah, yeah, I need to do some work too. Still, I'm at work this weekend & they're off - so let them sweat my situation a little bit. ;-)

There's only the one thing here that I don't want to leave. As you've probably guessed HKD/TKD are too important for me to give up. Also, there's not an ICHF (Combat Hapkido) school anywhere near that place. It's looking like the school started there will have to be my own. Master Rion is my instructor & always will be, so having a mentor isn't my problem.

My problem - well, in this case - is that I'm going to be responsible for an (intentionally) small school of my own. That may not sound like much but it's more than simply uncharted territory. I never planned to have my own school & there's not a clue in this magnificently brilliant mind to suggest how to run things best. I guess, like everything else, it'll need to be figured out in time.



These guys at Nintendo are flipping geniuses! The bowling game on Wii sports is incredible. Even how you rotate your wrist affects the spin on the ball.

My brother & I played the crap out of this to bring our scores up (Pro is at 1000). The training games involve picking up splits, working on rotation (by dodging barriers in the lane - very cool) & power rolls where you start at 10 pins & add a row each time to a max of 91.

Back @ Work

Yeah, it sucks as bad as you might think...


These things are a pain in the rear. I almost NEVER get sick & the one time I do is when my brother comes to visit.

To top it off, I get too sick to make class on Tuesday & missed one of our black belts coming back. It's been a long time so that really pissed me off.

Heck, the whole week has been a wash. I'm just coming out of this so I didn't attend class all week. BOOOO!!!

Vacation Review

It was a great time off! My brother, Matt, from SC came up to visit for about 5 days & we did quite a bit of running around. Most of it involved smoking cigars, hanging out in bars & trying to best each other on Wii Bowling.

He arrived Thursday about noon & after an hour drive back to the apartment, we went to lunch at Red Robin. Honestly, this place can do no wrong in my mind. Anything you get there is excellent & brings the sort of pleasure that you normally need to pay women for.

We smoked a couple nice Montecristos I got from a buddy & he thought his was lacking in flavor. Apparently if your cigar lacks that certain robust character, you need to smoke a cigarette. I've never had this problem & I don't plan on it. He did like the Cohibas we tried a couple days later.

The most drama came on the day he left. No, this wasn't some tear-filled send off. We got to Moline a little late & the gate was closed for him to check in. He called AirTran & they said it'd be $80 to re-book the flight for the morning. Also, the flight was for 5:50AM. There was no way I'd be able to drive back up to CR & be awake enough to drive all the way back to Moline so we decided on a hotel for him. Yeah, that Hampton Inn was brand new, top-of-the-line & the $100 for 1 night reflected that.

I felt bad about leaving him there but at least the room was nice. Yeah, he didn't even call me to say he got home safe! I had to see he updated his MySpace profile before I could tell.

Anyway, this whole visit got me thinking. I really would rather live down there. Heck, Iowa has never been for me. I only came here because my family lived here when I got out of the Navy. I'm sure I'd like to find a job in SC so I can get out of corn & pig heaven as soon as possible.



My brother is coming into town this Thursday & I'm taking the week off for some R & R while he's here. Plans pretty much involve the higher callings of life: drinking, partying & probably getting around to eating at some point.

Fortunately, his flight gets in Thursday about noon - which will give me time to get back for TKD/HKD. Yeah, I'm not taking that off. Any vacation I take in-state means I have all the time in the world to go to class & I'm going to take it. Also, I'm really stoked about my certification paperwork coming in.

I've got some nice cigars sitting in the humidor at the perfect temperature & moisture level that we're going to enjoy here. The Cohibas are particularly high on my list. I need to get a new cutter, but I'm thinking maybe I'll ask for one for Christmas since I can't think of anything else.

I'll let you all know how vacation's going. Take care & don't forget to write!


Should I Play the Lottery?

After HKD, I was headed to meet some friends over at the ID (Irish Democrat - my antithesis) & a train decided to mosey - that's the only way to describe it's incredibly lethargic pace - across the tracks with all the urgency you'd expect from organized labor. It took 17 minutes. Why yes, I had the time to count because I was stuck waiting for a stinkin' train!

For most people, that would be the end of the story. Nope, not this guy. After leaving the ID, I headed for work. Now, being the (semi)responsible individual that I am, my departure time allowed for normal traffic. My departure time, however, did not allow for fate's twisted sense of humor.

Yes, ANOTHER bleeping train on a different line managed to delay my habitually uneventful transition to place of employment by at least 15 minutes. This, of course, signifies a complete alignment of dark forces in my life; or maybe just some bad luck.

By my math* I figure the odds of two trains delaying any one person are, at very best, poor. By the same math, the odds of two trains delaying any one person to both a place of enjoyment AND a place of employment - thus providing ample opportunity for rhyming - are so exceptionally poor that I in fact have a better chance of winning the lottery.

So, what numbers should I use?

*my math = complete fabrication

Minimum Wage

So this is a big point for the democrats in Congress? To me the minimum wage is just like welfare - you shouldn't want to be there.

Adding to the pile, if you owned a company employing high school kids & you were told - other than the fact you don't control your own business - that anyone you hire MUST be paid a guaranteed minimum wouldn't you just hire less people to do the same amount of work? Am I the only person who gets this simple truth?

Of course, this isn't lost on progressives who simply blame "big business" for the evil practice of firing employees. The liberals just don't bother to mention they're forcing the business' collective hands by mandating companies follow a minimum standard for failure. What's the next step - laws against firing? Gee, viva la (French) revolucion!

The only point - if any - that should be taken from minimum wage is simply:

"Get me the hell away from this!"

Shouldn't you want better for yourself than the bare minimum everyone else makes? If not, go ahead back to reading Karl Marx & leave this conversation to the people who already understand what he's saying.

No one ever accomplished much by wanting the least for themselves. Motivation to excel is as alien to a minimum wage-earner as a socialist. The incentive for achievement simply doesn't exist & no amount of raising the bar will succeed if it keeps your head underwater.

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