Past Web Log for August 2001

Frozen in Time

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Currently reading ...
... E-book on Palm

The Amateur Cracksman
E.W. Hornung

... In Real Life
The Great Arc
John Keay

Currently in bloom
• geraniums
• roses
• alysum
• dianthus
• lobelia
• African daisies
• lavender
• butterfly bush

Currently knitting
• lavender-grey cardigan
• blue and white kung fu baby boots

Notable sites belonging to former co-workers:
Digital Identity

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Tracy's Irregular Web Log
Dog Days of Summer
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Further Meanderings

An unkindness of ravens, a murder of crows, a parliament of rooks, a chatter of magpies: which is not a legitimate collective noun? Ask Oxford
shared by Leslie

Want to feel righteous about your driving abilities? Want a good laugh at other drivers' expense? Especially if they live far far away from you? The Atlanta Roadway Digest is the site for you.
stolen from Rebecca

August 26 2001
Confluence of conversations.
Lunch with the girls the other day and it came up that someone had a relative who was involved in national security. This relative was periodically on Cold War alert and would get late night phone calls in code:

The red fox has jumped the fence.

Later that same night, visiting with one of our favorite bartenders at El Gaucho, he tells of his pre-school daughter's latest attention-getting ploy. "Daddy, daddy, I have to tell you something:"

Monkeys climb trees.

August 24 2001
Tempus fugit when you're having fun.
I've been taking E downtown with me every morning this week. He's filling in for someone at work. It's very cute, us commuting together.

Ever come across some material object that so compels you that you must own it? For me, most recently it was this book: The Man Who Grew Young, by Daniel Quinn, illustrated by Tim Eldred. I saw it at Powell's last Saturday and it has been on my mind since. It's about the Big Crunch, the cosmological theory that when the universe has expanded to its fullest it will contract, and everything that has ever happened will happen again - in reverse. The book is a graphic novel illustrating the life of one man who lives throughout the ages as time counts down. Everyone's life begins with being drawn out of the earth at old age and growing younger until one finally re-enters the body of the mother. But one man never finds his mother; he is apparently immortal.

On a quest to find the book at a bookstore near my place of work, I happened across this other gem: The Playful Eye, compiled by Julian Rothenstein and Mel Gooding. A must for the serious visual artist, this is a collection of visual puns, puzzles and optical illustions.

August 19 2001
From virtual to reality.
Yesterday afternoon I hung out with a group of people whom I know only by their funny nicknames in virtual community called Everything 2. I have my own silly nickname: Chattering Magpie. They were a nice group of young kids, mostly in their early 20s. We met up at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, then meandered over to Powell's City of Books. For dinner we drove across the river to Montage. I left them after dinner and rejoined E at El Gaucho's for dessert. I don't know where they went from there, but there was talk of a juice bar strip club.

August 15 2001
Inna Gadda Da Vida.
I left work a few minutes early today and came home to do a little gardening. The thing about me and gardening is I get all excited in spring, plant a bunch of stuff, then lose interest about half-way through summer. I'm thinking next year I'll put in more lavender. The dianthus seems like a good bet, as well. I've got a volunteer from the butterfly bush which I think I'll nurture. I like it's placement. I'm not sure about whether I want to keep the volunteer alysum, though.

August 12 2001
Two steps forward, one step back.
Very frustrating. I checked the second sleeve of the lavender-grey cardigan and it was two inches wider than the first sleeve at the same point! Arrgghh. So I ripped it out and started over on smaller needles. I am so tired of working on this project and am so ready to be done with it.

My tomatos are coming along nicely. I am not doing anything special with them - I just eat them right off the vine as soon as they're ripe. I think next year we'll get just cherry tomatos since those are the tastiest.

August 11 2001
Dinner and a show.
I didn't go to 'fu this morning, I slept in. First Saturday in months I've missed, I think. Slept in, even.

E and I went out to a movie last night: "Brother", not to be confused with "O Brother Where Art Thou" with George Clooney. The "Brother" we saw is a Japanese movie starring Beat Takeshi as a yakuza (Japanese gangster - a real badass) who goes to LA and organizes his younger brother and his posse of punk drug pushers into a real crime family. They take on the Mexicans, unite with the other Japanese gangsters and finally go up against the Mafia, all for control of drugs, prostitution and other assorted nefarious income-generating schemes. Body count: approx. 50+; finger count: 3; hari-kiri: 1; strategic suicide: 1. E giggled the whole way through.

August 8 2001
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.
Walking back to my car today, I heard the sound of bagpipes. Seems there was a pipe band in the parking lot behind Kells warming up, for what I don't know.

Mose's "kittens" are getting larger. She used to carry balls of yarn through the house at night, yowling. We guess she's exhibiting some kind of nesting instinct. But in the absence of balls of wool, she's been dragging out knit wool caps.

Speaking of kittens, we had a bit of excitement the other night. We were woken in the middle of the night to snarling, spitting and hissing. The brave home defenders had cornered the neighbor's kitten, which had gotten into the house. Poor little thing. I picked it up and tossed it out.

August 6 2001
Back in the saddle.
Yep, went right back to kung fu class today. Typically new brown belts take a little time off after their tests before coming back to class. But I figured, no reason not to go to class. The movement would do me good. I am planning on cutting back my training schedule to two weeknights and a Saturday.

I feel a sense of responsibility as a new brown belt, to set a good martial example for other students, moreso than I felt as a green or green-brown belt.

I'm at a point in my training where I need to decide how to proceed. I've made it this far on simple persistence, with no big plans. I just kept showing up each week and training. I need to set goals, determine what I really want to get out of martial arts. One thing I need to perceive and accept is reality: to accept that I am as good as I am and I know what I know, to neither downplay nor overplay my abilities.

August 5 2001
Black and blue and brown (long).
Actually I'm not nearly as bruised as I expected to be, the day after my brown belt test. Yes, I passed my brown belt test. I am a now officially a brown belt in Mo Duk Pai kung fu.

The test was a relatively short one, only five hours, but it was intense. We were constantly on the move, either demonstrating for the board, or doing continuous forms off the testing floor. We got a little Gatorade™ at about the four-hour mark. There were only five testers, three of us going up for brown and two blue sash candidates. Our helpers were all blue belts; normally test helpers are green and above, but with the three of us testing for brown, no green belts were available!

The highlight of the test, for me, was getting gutted during a multi-person continous attack - on purpose. The point of that little exercise was to see how I reacted - would I give up and give in, would I get angry and lose control? No! I kiaied as loud and hard as I could - four times - and kept moving forward, kept up the forward pressure on my attackers, kiaing right in their faces, using it like a weapon. My multi-person actually improved after that.

The paradox of martial arts testing, at least most people in our system experience it, is as you move up in rank and the tests get harder, they get easier. One of my personal challenges with testing is coping with the aftermath - I've gotten blinding headaches as a result of the physical exertion and dehydration. But with every move up in rank, I've felt better after the test. This time, I even felt good enough to go out with Jason for a bowl of phò, Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Of course, neither of us could eat the rice noodles or much of the meat - we just drank the beef broth.

If you noticed this web log looks a little different from the others (and I do hope you've been reading all along), it's because I am playing around with the typeface. This is Verdana, the look of which I like very much, but only at small sizes.