Re-introducing Woodburning Stoves?

A California Assemblyman wants to ban incandescent light bulbs because of being "incredibly inefficient".

Yeah, never mind that CA has tons of smog, wing nuts in the 9th Circuit court & laws that coddle illegal immigrants - we need to take out those darn light bulbs! They're destroying everything!

Priorities are so far out of whack on this one, I hardly know where to start. First, if our largest problem was related to inefficient light bulbs, let someone build a better one & free-market economy will handle the rest (hence the old adage: "build a better mousetrap...").

Banning the current incarnation of the incandescent bulb only cuts off a supply & hurts businesses as they struggle to deal with the new expense associated with compliance. Of course, legislators with such liberal leanings tend towards "feel good" measures, rather than practical ones.


Here Come The "Magic Wand" Jokes

It looks like Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame, will be starring in a stage production of Peter Shaffer's Equus. A scene of which will show him in the buff.

Yep, you can bet it won't be long (pardon the pun) before the "magic wand" jokes start making the rounds.

I'm not really sure how or why Radcliffe (aged 17) has gained the approval from his parents but I'd be willing to bet this is one of those moments in his career where he wants to "redefine" his image.

Well, I guess I wish him good luck on that. I sure won't be seeing that play. I just think it's weird to have the embodiment of a new childhood icon presenting himself in his birthday suit.

Hapkido Test

I'm feeling pretty well about my chances on this one. Mr. Reif helped me get through High Brown & Red Belts last night. We even went back to High Brown to make sure we had everything working well.

As we get closer to test time, I'll get more nervous (believe me, that's normal in any test where you have to recall this much). There's over 160 techniques by my count. Yikes!

The real key to success here is not skipping an entire group of techniques in any belt. That's more likely to happen, IMO, than missing one or two in a particular set.

I'm betting with the next three days for practice, we'll be able to set these down & I'll be all set for next Tuesday at 6:30PM.

Cut Block Drill

After some gentle prodding (read: get your butt in line!) I went to Arnis last night & we worked on the "Cut Block" exercise. This involves having a training knife & "attacking" your partner. The other person replies with a quick hands-up kind of block and - you guessed it - you cut into the blocking appendage.

We also worked on a similar drill called "Four Ps" (Push, Pull, Pin, Pass) that takes the Cut Block & has you create your own openings. The pass drill particularly caught my attention.

In Hapkido we have a passing drill. The problem is, despite my 2nd Grade ranking, I've never been able to get that sucker to work well. It seems working the same drill in Arnis helped me put this one together.

It's with this "AHA!" moment that I realized the simple truth: Arnis will probably make me better in Hapkido. That's a goal I can work towards!

I have a lot of catching up for 1st level Arnis (which is mostly stick) so I can keep working with the level 2 guys. It's a fun class & if anyone can find an instructor (good luck), you should check Arnis (also CQC, Modern Arnis) out.

Wii Virtual Console

Nintendo's come up with a real winner! They're offering lots of older (NES, Super NES, Genesis, N64) games online you can play on the console.

Most of the games will run you from $8 to $10, but the NES titles only cost $5. They introducing three or four "new" games online every week. The latest of which is Mario Kart 64 - one of the funnest games for the N64. At $10, it's worth the cost for a game that's hard to find.

It's a shame the other console makers couldn't offer this kind of service. Being able to download your games onto a small SD memory card & not having to worry about storage of cartridges is a brilliant idea.

Right now, I've got to get back to Super Castlevania IV - another classic among classics! Have a good day everyone.


San Disk Sansa e200r

Product: MP3/Video/FM Radio/Photo Viewer
Capacity: 8GB Model (Expandable with Micro SD)
Cost: $199.99
Purchased At: Best Buy

I found this little gem of an MP3 player at Best Buy when I was doing extensive searching for just the right one. Believe me, when I put over 6 months into finding a product, I'm serious about it being just what I want. By comparison, I took just two months deciding on what new car to buy.

It's a compact player if there ever was one. Roughly the size of a credit card, it has a 1.8" TFT screen with over 250,000 colors. It plays video flawlessly - even going so far as to rotate the image for the best fit on the display. As for weight, it has a noticeable gravity in your hand. While not "heavy" by definition, it does feel sturdy when you hold it.

The device is pretty simple to figure out, though some of the less-technical folks out there may need a few tries to get the video conversion going. Once you figure it out, there's nothing tough about it. Fortunately, simplicity is the name of the game for this little gizmo.

Navigation & volume control are shared by a rotating wheel on the face that has a nice blue glow - similar to the Nintendo Wii's. It's perfectly responsive & it's raised just above the surrounding buttons. I've found this makes it much better for listening as you're not too likely to skip or pause by accident.

As for charging, it has an internal Lithium battery which can be replaced if needed. There's no bulky adapter or switching out to charge a 2nd battery - you just connect the USB cable to your computer, plug in the unit & it charges up, quickly.

This one's available in 2GB, 4GB, 6GB models as well. For my money, I'd recommend the 6GB or 8GB. They're only $20 more than the 4GB & 6GB models, respectively.

Overall, it's an excellent player. The included CD installs quickly & without difficulty. The design was centered around ease of use, even for relatively new functions like video playback & radio recording. If you're in the market for a new player, the Sansa is definitely worth a listen.


I Can't Help But Find This Disturbing

Some student groups at Yale have decided to do more than simply "celebrate" Roe v. Wade week by promoting abortion (hat tip: Michelle Malkin) , these same groups are holding a seminar - if you really want to call something that appears this twisted a seminar - on how to perform this "simple procedure" - simple, according to Merritt Evans, MED in the Yale Daily News:
“The reason I wanted to include other people is that it is such a simple procedure, but the media attention around it … makes this an emotionally traumatic and a complicated thing,” Evans said. “It’s just to be like, ‘Here is what actually happens, here is what the medical procedure is like, this is what an aborted yolk sac looks like.’ It looks like a piece of cotton."

Sure, let's take the emotional value out of childbirth as well. What are we supposed to be, robotic in our handling of emotional subjects? Is the MED also suggesting that an amputee or survivor of breast cancer shouldn't have an emotional response to a harrowing - to say the very least - ordeal?

We're talking about the complete devaluation of human life by way of a pragmatic, it's-only-a-medical-procedure approach.

Has anyone out there ever lost a loved one, even from natural causes, & thought to himself/herself upon hearing the news, "Hey, it was his/her time. What's for lunch"? This is NOT an attempt at humor. I'm being serious. How much must you be conscience-deficient if you keep that sort of mindset & trivialize the death of anyone?

I'm not here to discuss pro/anti-abortion lobbies. The simple fact is there is an emotional response to any major event in a person's life. These activists at Yale must be sadly detached from society & humanity to fail to understand that in promoting an ideology.

Test Is Moving Along

Class last night went really well. The kids behaved for the most part in TKD & it passed by without incident. Master Rion led things & we all got a good workout from it.

HKD was incredibly productive! Mr.Reif helped me get through Purple & Brown belts in the 1st half of class. Since we had extra time, we started over at White belt & managed to get all the way through Green without any problems.

For those of you keeping count, that leaves High Brown belt & Red belt to sort out before test. Since there's about 12 days to test, I'm feeling good about my chances at this point. I wouldn't have guessed I'd be this far along in preparing for advancement.

Tonight, we'll work on Brown, High Brown & Red belts - which will probably use most of our time. Any time left I suspect will be to touch up Purple & Blue. Since we were able to get White through Green done so quickly, I suspect those will take care of themselves.


Quote For Today

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."
- Henry Ford (1863-1947)

I'm Not That Kind Of Blog!

A good friend mentioned that a post idea wold be the recent announcement of political candidates throwing their respective hats into the ring for the 2008 Presidential election. I gave that a good, long thought.

And decided I'm probably going to stay out of it until there's a nominee for both parties.

Yes, I enjoy talking politics. Government has always been a fascination of mine, so it only stands to reason that punditry suits me as well.

Still, I want to avoid having a predominately political blog because it tends towards heated arguments, which lead to foul language & hurtful name-calling. It's not that I won't discuss politics - I often do. It's that I want to keep this site fresh & interesting for the people who are generous enough with their time to read what I type. Limiting the discussion to politics just cuts out all the fun I have. :-)


I've added a glossary to the sidebar on my page. Think of it as a handy reference tool when you have no idea what I'm talking about.

If there's anything else you'd like defined (by me, not Webster's) let me know & it will be done!


I just started (again) on this art. I'd also like to say peer pressure was no small part of it (Bill, Kyle, I think you know what I mean). Basically, I was shamed into starting back at it.

Of course, the last part is mostly in jest. I really do enjoy Arnis. It's challenging & certainly one of the most efficient weapons styles I've ever seen.

For those of you not familiar with Arnis, it's a hand, stick & knife combatives art of Filipino origin. The style I'm taking is Modern Arnis & is part of the larger CQC program under W. "Hock" Hochheim.

So last night was my first back in a looong time. We worked on Single Sinnawali, Advanced Single Sinnawali, Reverse Single, Advanced Reverse Single & the 14 positions of attack for double sticks. Productive? You bet. I can even remember the 14 positions! (OK, OK, so you guys were right about me enjoying it!)

Anyway, thanks to Bill & Kyle for getting me to stay last night. I was working on two hours of sleep, dead tired & sore from the HKD test where I was thrown around like a rag doll...yet, it was still worth it. I think that says it all.

"Surprise" Test

I've been focusing a lot on TKD testing. It's about 3 or 4 months away & I still have a great deal to accomplish. The form I'm doing for demonstration may change - mostly to make it easier for the four people "attacking" me. Also, I have to shore up the terminology, tweak my other forms just right, etc.

Which is why I was surprised when Master Rion said those four words you never expect to hear...

It's time to test...in Hapkido.


Well, to say a fire was well lit under my backside is an understatement. I quickly realized there are over 160 techniques I need to have down pat in two weeks! Sure, I know most of them already but there's also quite a challenge in executing them ordinarily.

That being said, I am fortunate to have a mentor in the process. Mr. Reif, one of our black belts, has volunteered his time to help me with getting up to speed for this test. Recommended black belt is a big step & I'm sure to be run through the fire on this one.

In the end I know it will be worth it. Passing a test in HKD, particularly the higher belts, is always rewarding because you know you've earned it.

Maybe A Spanking Is In Order

OK, I know a few of you will disagree with me here, but when AirTran kicked a family off a flight because of a tantrum-laden child couldn't be consoled by her parents, I thought it was the right thing to do.

Let's face it, kids are going to be kids but parents must be able to hold their own in the face of something as common as a tantrum. Believe me, there were times when I misbehaved as a child (no, seriously!) & I can tell you that my parents were on-the-ball when it came to discipline. No, they weren't Assyrian in their methods but they did ensure I knew right from wrong.

This couple had 15 minutes to calm the kid down & they obviously had no control over the situation. Heck, the little girl was even hitting her own parents. Try that with my Father & your last moments on earth might be very painful...

Now, I know you're thinking, "Hapkido, they PAID for those tickets"! That's a fair point. So did the other passengers. Should they be forced to endure a two-hour poutfest from a recalcitrant youth? I don't think so.

The airline refunded the parents' money, gave them the opportunity to fly anywhere in the country & handled the situation with the best interests of the passengers in mind. The parents, not happy with the fact they can't discipline their own child, are refusing to fly AirTran ever again.

Sometimes you get lucky. Now I know that AirTran hasn't become AirTantrum, I'll probably be that much more willing to give them a try.


Carrie Underwood

I can't say I'm much of an American Idol fan - it just never caught my interest. I suppose I can be forgiven for not knowing who the heck Carrie Underwood is.

I heard her single "Before He Cheats" on the radio & while it's not really my type of song, it did encourage me to check out some of her other songs. I downloaded a few & would say she's at least worth checking out.

I'm not much of a country fan, though I do have a few artists I can enjoy. She's definitely going on the list because of her strong, confident voice. Most of her songs are catchy or at least strike a good emotional chord. It doesn't hurt that she's cute-as-a-button, either. ;-)

Seriously, she's well-worth a listen. Hope you enjoy her music!


Customer Serviced?

Am I the only person out there whose noticed that service at most places has taken a nosedive? I had three instances in the past week where businesses have just plain done a terrible job.

First, I was at von Maur - a department store which sells some higher-end clothing & fine gifts. There are three people for whom I shop there exclusively. To say I'm a regular customer might be an understatement since my Mom, little sister & my friend Amy all receive gifts I purchase there.

I stood in the Gifts area for ten minutes & made direct eye contact with the sales representative to let he know I was ready to make my purchase (a rather exquisite piece of silver crystal).

Nothing. Not so much as a signal that she'd be with me in a moment...

After this brush off, I decided I'm not going to take this lying down. Instead of walking over to this obviously disinterested-in-a-sale person, I went to the back of the shop to Customer Service & asked for a manager. I politely explained that waiting is fine when the department is busy & yes, I am in fact a patient person when it comes to this. However, waiting for over ten minutes when NO ONE ELSE IS AROUND is pretty well unacceptable.

The manager agreed & took the transaction from start to finish. Still, it's disappointing for this to happen at a store I frequent largely because of their excellent service.

The second & third instances were at local restaurants (Red Robin & Ruby Tuesday). Now, Red Robin has always done well but this time just teed me off. Probably the fact it was the day after the von Maur issue didn't help. The waitress just plain ignored us for ten to fifteen minutes & a different waitress was actually the one to help us out. Ridiculous doesn't begin to describe it.

Ruby Tuesday was actually a problem tonight. The bad impression started when the hostess practically rolled her eyes at the fact we walked in the door a few minutes before 9pm (they close at 10pm). It didn't help that the server wasn't particularly attentive. Look, I'm not high maintenance at a restaurant: I don't need every single thing to be just so, nor do I complain about minor stuff. Just refill my drink when it's empty & I guarantee you get a good (20%+) tip.

Of course, that wasn't to be for this guy - who seemed more interested in yapping with other patrons (he obviously knew them) than taking care of customers. Small tip? Yeah, you know it.

All I'd like to see is people give a crap about doing their job well. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by this apathy. After all, the people at my work can't stand the fact I make them, "look bad". Yes, I do that by exceeding all my goals & setting a good example.

For all of you that feel that way, let me just say that if *you* did a good job while you're at work, then maybe you'd have less complaints about the people who do. Focus on your work, don't worry about what the other guy is doing & for Heaven's sake service the customer so they don't feel like you've "serviced" them in another way!


Yeah, They "Both" Decided

Sure thing, buddy.

According to this AP report, a California man's fiance AND the California man himself decided he's going to take her last name when they get married.

To further drive the point home, she told...uh, I mean they both contacted the ACLU - the organization famed for its defense of child molesters & communists - who is suing on their behalf.

The basis? Why, his 14th Amendment rights have been violated. Specifically, the "equal protection" clause. Let's look at it, shall we?

Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Ah, yes, I can see exactly where this applies constitutionally! Wait, no, it's the other thing: I can't see it at all.

Of course there's nothing in the Constitution stating, one way or the other, whether this is legal.

You'd think the fact there are no laws restricting a man changing his name when he marries, that it would be a simple matter of addressing it on the state level. But no, this guy needs to take exception to the U.S. Constitution because his wife said...I mean they want to make it easier for other men - who are presumably too shy too defend their rights - to take their wife's name.

Well, at least there's no question who wears the pants in this relationship.

That's When I Realized We're Family.

My adopted little sister, Liz, & I got into a heated argument over a politically-charged subject.

No, I won't get into the details of the matter. I will say we're both stubborn people who aren't easily swayed. So yeah, it was a "spirited" argument.

It says a lot that she could get me so worked up & assertive with my opinions. I only do that with - you guessed it - family.

That, paired with the fact we were willing to apologize to each other & drop it after the whole thing just goes to show she is, in fact, my sister after all. :-)


A couple of us at the school came up with a plan to prepare Master Rion for his upcoming 4th degree test. It's going to require (at least) two black belts to make this happen.

Fortunately, Master Rion is OK with this idea.

Unfortunately, we have to make (even) more time for it to work.

Classes in Atkins have been larger than normal for at least 6 months now. That was about the time a large group of families all joined. To any well-established school of many years that wouldn't be a concern. In this case we have one glaring limitation: Too few black belts.

I'm the only other black belt in TKD whose consistently there to help with class. Mr. Lee has been getting out there lately, which should help. He's just getting into the instructor ranks, so we should have him up to speed in very little time. Other than Brian Lee, Mr Waddell is there all the time. He's just getting back into it & has to learn all the self-defense & punch techniques before he's able to lead class.

The second part of the plan - & this is really the important part - is to have Mr. Reif (1st degree in HKD) work with Master Rion on the techniques required for his 4th Dan testing. For that to happen, we need every senior belt to step things up.

I know all of that is possible. The only thing that might hold it back is, ironically, Master Rion's dedication to his own students. He's sacrificed so much to get the school where it is, that I suspect he feels he's letting the school down by taking any time to himself. This is one of many reasons why he's earned my loyalty as a student & friend.

The thing we, as his junior instructors, need is to convince him in a respectful way that spending time getting ready will ultimately make the school stronger. While I concede the students will want for lack of his leadership in class for a couple months it's an experience we can use to develop maturity in some of the children moving up to senior positions.


Job Hunt Continues

Yeah, I've already got a well-paying job with a transportation company but I'm wanting to move to SC more & more everyday.

It's also crappy here in the winter.

So, I'm planning on investing some $$$ in a resume company soon to make sure the format is best-suited for finding a good job quickly. I also need to account for all my experience in a clear, creative way that will garner lots of attention.

I guess we'll see if the money spent is worth it. I can't imagine it'll take them more than a couple days to revamp one document.


Intentions vs. Results

"A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future". - Leonard Bernstein

"A conservative is a man or a woman who makes it happen". - Hapkido

San Francisco Value-less

As if there is really any doubt of that.

Here's a city that bans JROTC from schools because of supposedly poor influence on children. I don't know about you but I've never known anyone who turned into a crazed gunman by way of a high school program. If anything, JROTC gives kids who don't want to play sports or be in the band something constructive to do with their lives.

As the linked story shows, you can't even show the most basic form of patriotism - singing the Star Spangled Banner - without, literally, coming under the heel of progressives bent on tearing down the traditional values of this country. Just as bad is the fact police released the attackers after they were identified.


After giving one Yale student a broken jaw & another a concussion.

Apparently, fighting for freedom & love of country aren't valid reasons according to the San Francisco "values" crowd. However, if you're expressing your patriotism, expect no quarter from these same people. That's something beneath contempt in their eyes.



Rating: R
(Brief nudity, Drug use, Violence)
Format: Widescreen
Cost: $16.82 - Wal-Mart

An excellent action move, "Crank" stars Jason Statham (of "Transporter" fame) as a high-priced hitman who wakes to discover he's been killed. No, he's not actually dead yet but has been poisoned by a vengeful rival.

Naturally, instead of breaking down into tears, downing a bottle of Jack & slipping off into sweet oblivion he decides he's going to take his frustrations out on the jerk who offed him.

It's kind of like DOA, except no Dennis Quaid & more action.

I'd recommend anyone who likes action flicks see this one. The acting is generally strong & believable. Sure, the plot is far-fetched but you need some of that to make an action movie work - which this does. The whole thing really flies by & comes off as a thrill ride from the first minute of the movie. That, combined with a dash of humor, makes for an excellent adventure at the movies.


So When Do They Positively Portray Themselves?

I've linked to this post on Michelle Malkin's website that discusses Pace University blocking the screening of a documentary titled "Obsession", which subjects radical Islam.

One particaular passage, taken from the NY Post, strikes me as most appropriate for our discussion: "The school stepped in after receiving complains from Muslim students that the film negatively portrayed Islam".

OK. Here's my question:

When is Islam going to stop negatively portraying itself? All we ever see is radical islamists spout everything from jihad on the West to making a scene to disrupt air travel and, presumably, security. The fact is the people who follow this religion have done little to nothing to show it in a positive light. Note to all extremists: threatening to chop my head off is generally NOT a good way to convince someone you're peaceful & likeable.

So here's the thing: If you want to prevent "negative" portrayals, DO. SOMETHING. POSITIVE. It's as simple as that.

But I think simplicity has escaped all too many in this "tolerant" world.



I saw her that one day, alone & approachable. Everything said, pushed me, to walk over & speak to the person sitting not ten feet from me.

Everything, that is, except my own insecurity.

I've played the story in my mind, viewed it like so many endings drawn up & crumpled on the cutting room floor. Why I failed to choose a path leading to the happy reconciliation, even I can't answer. Wanting the chance so long, that when it finally presented itself, offered the resolution happier than I could have hoped, I ran from it like every other time.

In that fleeting, failed moment of my own doing, I have no idea whether she would have found the same happiness in knowing me that I'm so sure I'd have meeting her. Fear, it seems has been given too much power over my reasoning.

Now, it's only angst & regret I feel when I hear anything about her or see so much as a picture. Sorrow for an glaringly obvious opportunity allowed to pass. The blame? My own.

I never imagined her as perfect, there wasn't a flawless person sitting near me. To see that wouldn't have impressed. I saw a woman with whom a great deal of similarity was obvious. A person. Human. We shared, without either ever knowing, commonality through our preferred arts. In that & by how casually she could look at me without turning shyly away when I noticed, I saw quiet confidence in her. I suppose that's to be expected from someone of that experience.

After countless reflections I've come to realize what makes something for which I obviously long so greatly impossible.

I'm not prepared.

It's nothing to do with who she is, where she is & what she wants. Sadly, this would be the concern of a person whose whole & prepared for his role in life. In my situation that person hasn't come to exist. My feelings of inadequacy are well-rooted:

My college degree, something with 3 years completed, has not been finished. Something people far less intelligent (IMAO) have accomplished with relative ease.

The current direction of my career - while promising - is far behind where a person of my age should be. I'm hard-working, adaptive & produce results. Still, the aforementioned lack of a degree limits my potential.

Ultimately, it's that I realize a person prepared for a relationship - prepared to accept the challenges of life - would have completed these goals by now. It's not that I won't complete them. It's that taking so long has made me understand how much it has cost.

Selfish as it is (if there's any point I'm selfish with, it's relationships), I know I've lost that chance with a person obviously so appreciable for her offerings to public service & education. It's by my own failing & at least I can grudgingly hope there is someone for whom she is suited.

All that I can offer from this is: Don't lose the opportunity like I did. Do what you need to be prepared for life & don't let fear or perceived inadequacy hold sway over your goals, wants & desires. I did & though my life is FAR from over & I have many things which I can anticipate, I'll have to live the rest of that life knowing I lost a genuine chance at what would truly make me happy.

All because I wasn't prepared.


Does Gun Control Work The Same Way?

New Orleans, after eight homicides the first week of the new year, is contemplating a curfew to curb the violence.

My thought is criminals, not caring a rat's rear end about the law, will simply ignore this particular governmental nuisance & continue on their transgressing way.

What's rattling around in the city council's heads down there? Are they thinking, "Well, the LAWS we have aren't working, so let's add another one in there. That'll solve the problem"! Sadly, that's not going to be the case.

I think the "solution" proposed by way of implementing a curfew is a similar tactic to gun control laws: People who obey the law aren't the ones you need to worry about.

They ARE the ones who need to worry when these sort of laws are put in the books, however. With gun control laws, law-abiding citizens are restricted from purchasing firearms. Criminals, not caring too much for the minor inconvenience of the law, simply find ways to circumvent the waiting periods & restrictions. Yes, they (*gasp*) obtain these weapons illegally.

The same will be the case with the curfew.

The Police Superintendent claims in the linked article that the killings are related to a failing school system. Yes, that's exactly what it is. Look, I went to high school in SC, which is ranked incredibly low in national education. I'm not a killer or a thug. I'm gainfully employed, do positive things in the community & don't buy into the concept that a poor educational system would lead to this. If it did AR (49th) & MS (50th) would be the most violent places in the union.

So what's the solution? First, leadership needs to step up & get enforcement rolling. If this means volunteer police forces so be it. One obstacle I will acknowledge as difficult to overcome is the legal system. It's slow going & something will need to be done to alleviate the bottleneck they're experiencing right now. I'm no lawyer, so I can't pretend to know the solution for this. Perhaps they could provide for judges/counsel outside this jurisdiction to transfer there? I'm not sure that's even a legal option.


Release The Hounds!

I'm loving this site! The topics are appropriate for everyone & interesting to peruse. Not only are posts well-organized, but you can also subscribe easily to receive content.

I'll freely admit I've never heard of Ric Ottaiano before but you can believe I'll be a regular to this site - which has a great deal of serious commentary paired with a dash of humor.

Take the time to check it out. You'll be happy you did.


Back In The Saddle

The first class back (on Wednesday) was excellent. I had actually showed up at the Cedar Rapids location on Tuesday. Don't ask me why. I just assumed there was class that day. Maybe it was eagerness on my part.

Master Rion had me lead TKD & I really pushed them hard. No, I wasn't trying to have anyone drop dead but the adults wanted a workout & I'm confident they got one (Note: If the adults love it & the kids complain, you're doing just right.). I mixed things up a bit & tried some new, and useful, combinations in the basic movements part of class.

One-steps & self-defense were somewhat on the routine side. Then again, I had the majority of class to teach (white & yellow belts worked downstairs with Master Rion) & there's not much time for one 1st degree to tend personally to every student. I'd prefer to have more one-on-one opportunities, like in Hapkido, but that's just not going to happen in a class of forty students.

Hapkido was very nice. The class size was just right - seven students. We need to get some of the lower belts moving up in rank but that's all in due time. My testing should be late February to early March (best guess). I have A LOT to refine in that short period.

Next week we're back on a full schedule. That means I'll probably be doing TKD, HKD, Arnis on Monday; two hours of TKD, HKD on Tuesday; regular Wednesday & Thursday to finish things off. Ah, here's to a hopefully good week!

Declaration of War

A group of gunmen came across the Arizona/Mexico border on January 4th, 2007 & attacked National guardsmen posted on the border.

At what point are any of our representatives going to do something about this porous border? It's obvious, as it has been for years, that illegals have every means & incentive (thanks to increasingly liberal laws in states like CA) to come across the border to start a new life here.

Strangely enough, I'm hearing nothing but silence on the left side of the aisle about this attack. It seems liberals are increasingly concerned for our troops in harm's way when it furthers their political agenda (Iraq, Vietnam ring a bell?). However, when the issue has no opportunity for political capital, you can forget any petitions for the safety of our men & women in uniform.

The border needs to be sealed by adding more troops to the patrols. I don't know about you but I'd be somewhat discouraged at my chances to cross the border illegally if a Bradley fighting vehicle rolled up on the scene. Illegals arrested in this country (whether they're crossing the border or living in a major city) should be immediately deported.

That being said, I am for legal immigration. My family emigrated to the United States through legal means. The vast majority of today's Americans are here by the same process. Anyone who follows & respects our nation's laws to become a naturalized citizen deserves our respect & should be welcomed with open arms.


Somewhere In Solitude

My Imoto, Sarah, just gave me a copy of her new (& first) CD! It's titled "Somewhere In Solitude" & being the dutiful big brother (Ani - in Japanese), I of course need to offer my opinions of this first official work.

I'm listening to the CD right now. There are six songs (all written/performed by Sarah) on piano. Yes, I'm a bit on the biased-side, but just pretend I'm part of the mainstream media & it won't be so tough to follow along. ;-)

1) Hitori (Alone): This song captures exactly the feeling of solitude. It actually makes me feel a bit isolated, which I'm guessing is the spirit of this piece. It has a very solemn tempo with an almost playful undertone in the harmony. I'd consider this, above all, a song for quiet reflection.

2) Kaleidoscope: Almost a continuation (at the start) of Hitori, this song plays with greater depth & is reminiscent of a Sartre meditation - though, instead of descending further, this piece brings the listener a more lively, powerful essence than the previous track.

3) Sakura Matsuri: There's a slightly cheerful undertone to this one. The feeling given is similar to a successful resolution to an obstacle. The noticeable pause close to the finish invokes a brief anticipation where the melody continues on its same path.

4) Envy: "A sorrowful longing" is the best way I can describe this. Envy definitely does capture the mood. Tempo & melody combine to offer a feeling of want without hope of resolution. There's still a glimmer of idealism &, as a result, hope that underlies the emotions stirred.

5) Kouryuu: A slower & more grandiose piece of music, Kouryuu is possessed of a gentle gravity. For the most part there is a noticeable flow. This is highlighted to excellent effect by the occasional pause. Something about this track makes it feel like it slips away from you all too soon. I'm at a loss to describe this, however.

6) Owari: Actually invokes an image of a sad farewell. It's the kind of song played in a classic movie where the impending & unwanted separation of a couple - complete with an internal struggle against the inevitable - cannot be held at bay any longer. Seriously, I got all that out of this! Black & white, elegantly dressed woman with an equally handsomely dressed gentleman, tearfully separating themselves with the sincerest regret of having to do so.

OK, so you may be wondering where you can get this CD. Well, I'll have to get with Sarah on that. I received a copy for Christmas & don't know if she has anything set up for everyone to purchase. As I get more information, I'll make sure to post an update.

Seriously, I'm the first to admit I'm going to post a good review on Sarah's musical talents no matter what work she produces but this really is an excellent CD. Consider that she wrote her own songs, is still in high school (AP classes included) & still finds the time to come out for Hapkido & you'll be pleasantly impressed.


Sledding On Ice?

Ah, cowering to the fear of the omnipotent lawsuit! The City of Omaha, NE has banned sledding at two of its popular sledding locales.

I have a few choice words for the council members who bowed to paranoia & took away one of winter's most Rockwellian activities: Get. A. Spine.

Why do government "representatives" as a whole not represent their constituents? I'm certain there's no public outcry for banning the horrible, disfiguring activity of sledding. The fact there might be a lawsuit related to an activity is no reason to ban it.

The fact of the matter is banning an activity based on fear of a lawsuit not only restricts liberties (something liberals have cited, I believe incorrectly, the president as doing), it also encourages money-grubbing, litigious weasels out there to file suit, knowing they'll at the very least have elected representatives fall to the pressure of the courts.

So, city council of Omaha,NE you should collectively apologize for such a short-sighted, foolish action & allow folks to sled at the two lake dams. Have the integrity to properly represent the citizens of your great city. I visit there at least once a year for the annual Hapkido seminar & think everyone should enjoy your city for everything it offers. Sledding included

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