Thursday, September 19, 2013

Digging in the Dirt

THUMP! ...  THUMP! ...  THUMP! ...  For the past week, for a couple hours each night after I got home from work, I would work on digging a 2 foot deep, 2 foot wide, 25 foot long trench in my yard.  Initially, it was grueling work, but about half-way through the project, while swinging a pick mattock over my head and noticing I was smoothly transitioning from one overhand grip to another, it dawned on me that something about what I was doing felt very familiar.  The overhead hand transition I was making to easily switch from chopping away at the soil on the left side of the trench vs. the right side of the trench was the same type of movement I had done for years while practicing various bo kata.

I then also noticed that rather than just swinging with my arms and getting tired very quickly, I could combine working with the weight of the pick and my own body weight to more easily chip away at the hard packed soil.  Suddenly, I was making significantly faster progress and was not getting anywhere near as tired as I had been earlier.  I was paying better attention when digging, noticing when to give in to the resistance rather than work against it, something that had been practiced quite a bit while studying udundi.

It all seems so obvious now - I just wished I had been  mindful of all of this from the start. I finished the last 12 feet of the trench in about 1/3 of the time it took me to do the first half.  It's a good reminder of something I've been missing from my lack of martial arts training these past couple of years.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Radom Eye Dull Photos - The Tree Frog

Saw this little guy sitting on a gate in my back yard...






Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ch..ch..ch..changes

Almost a full year has gone by with just one blog post and only 3 posts in the year before that.  What's going on here, you ask? (What, no one asked? Ok, fair enough, but I'll pretend someone did.)

First and foremost, I blame Facebook.  The main purpose of this blog was a way to share my photos and thoughts with friends and family.  The universal access to it was somewhat of a side-effect of the technology of the day.  I never knew which of my friends or family would be interested in this material,  so having a blog with global access meant anyone, friends and strangers alike, would have access to it if they happened to discover it.  I don't mind sharing somewhat personal thoughts and opinions with the world, but it was never really a goal.   As Facebook began to gain in popularity with the majority of my friends and family, I found myself posting more frequently there and less frequently here.  

However, reflecting a bit on things now, looking back on what I used to occasionally write about on this blog, I'm beginning to think I might prefer the long-form thoughtful format of a blog vs. the more snippety stuff I write on Facebook.

I'm not trying to say I'm going to abandon Facebook and return to solely writing on this blog.  Facebook is great for keeping up with a large group of friend and family, but I'm thinking, when time permits, I am going to try to use my blog as well.

And so, as a first attempt at getting back to this blog, I offer a summary of what has happened with me these past few years:

In late 2009, after several years of careful scheming and manipulation, I finally succeeded in convincing the woman of my dreams that it might not be a bad idea for us to date.  (Yes, it really did take her several years to agree to a date - we had been good friends for several years but she had always made it clear that we were only ever going to be "just friends."   If you read some of my early blog posts from several years ago, you will find there is the occasional reference to this friend.)

About a year and half ago we bought a house in the country and at the same time I somehow convinced said woman of my dreams that it might actually be a good idea for us to get married.  And so, this past spring, we did indeed get married. For a honeymoon we took a once in a life-time 10-day trek to Machu Picchu in Peru (I really should post some pictures - the mountains of Peru are quite beautiful).  And, now, at the close of this year, we are just a month away from the birth of our baby boy.

Exciting times both past and looking ahead, and as I've already been told many times, with the birth of a child life is never going to be the same for us.

Happy holidays to family and friends both near and far.  Wishing you all a happy 2013.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Pachinko

NOTE: somehow this post got lost - I wrote it about a year and a half-ago (back in 2010), but forgot to click the "publish" button.
For my birthday this year, my sister and brother-in-law gave me a vintage pachinko machine which they had discovered at a yard sale.



If you don't know what pachinko is, you can read more about it on Wikipedia.

Although I've been to Japan twice and I have seen lots of pachinko parlors from the outside, I had never actually ventured into one and I had never seen an actual pachinko machine until now. It's a pretty interesting mechanical device.

It's totally "gravity powered", meaning it requires no batteries. A series of levers, ramps, and pressure plates are all that control the inner workings of the machine. It does have two lights that can be battery powered (one for signaling the machine is out of balls and one which turns on during a payout), but the lights are totally optional as far as actual gameplay.



The machine I have was manufactured by Nishijin, in Tokyo, Japan in the early 1970s. Nishijin manufactured many different style machines, and this one is known as a model A, or recycler model. It had a unique feature of "recycling" the losing balls into the payout pool so the machine didn't have to be refilled with balls as frequently as other models.

In order to give you an idea of how the machine works, here a few videos of it in operation.

video

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Random Eye Dull Photo: Bats!

The past few nights I've seen a large number of bats flying around at dusk. A friend asked me if I took any pictures of them, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Given the low lighting, it proved to be a bit challenging. I initially tried using autofocus, but that proved impossible.





I then tried setting a fixed focus point and guess when the bats were in the right place. This gave slightly better results, but still the low light just gave a blurry result.



I then opted for a flash, along with manually focused at a fixed point, and this gave somewhat decent results. They're not going to win any awards, but you can at least tell they're bats.







Sunday, January 23, 2011

Random Eye Dull Photo: Cardinals


(You can click on image for a larger view)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Random Eye Dull Photo: Golden-Crowned Kinglet



Caught this little guy digging in the snow looking for seeds. (You can click on the image for a larger view).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Random Eye Dull Photo: Faucet Drip

It's a cold rainy day - what better time to take pictures of a dripping faucet?




















Sunday, December 05, 2010

Random Eye Dull Photo: Eye-closeup

I bought another new (used) lens for my camera, this time one for macro photography. It's the Nikon AF Micro Nikkor 105mm 2.8 D.

This being late fall, there's not really any flowers or insects to photograph outside, so I've been experimenting with the camera indoors. Again, Hiro was the test subject. He will generally sit fairly still while I put a camera lens very close to his face.

Took me a few tries to get his iris in focus... Coincidentally, you can also see my other dog Bodhi reflected in his pupil.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Random Eye Dull Photo: Hiro

I bought a new (used) lens for my camera, and was testing its ability to shoot wildlife in low-light outdoor conditions. Since there wasn't any actual wildlife in the area, one of my dogs had to play the role.




The lens is an old Nikon AF-D 80-200mm f2.8 ED. It's not as nice as the new Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens, but at about 1/4 the price, it'll do the job well enough.

The above photos aren't super sharp, but the sun was setting, I was in the woods, and I don't have the steadiest hand, so given all that, I was happy with the result.