Archive for July, 2006

My New Laptop – Acer Travelmate 2428

Monday, July 31st, 2006

MM,

It has been a very strange week. It must have been that Mercury retrograde in Cancer. Ugh! Hard to keep moving forward with that transit. However, in some ways it can be productive such as helping you clear out communications that may have been in your way. It has, however, turned me into a hermit for another week. Glad to say Mercury has now gone direct. Yay! It will move back into Leo soon, and I can be cheerily doing more writing…

…on my new laptop. 😀

I have been using an old IBM Thinkpad T20 that Nathan had for a while now. While it is a very good laptop, it is about five years old (I think). The major problems I’ve been having with it are fussy power input and a screen that likes to flicker on and off. The problem with the power started with a damaged power cord (that we have managed to make work temporarily by soldering the wires – it just wears out again). We bought a power cord adapter for the Thinkpad, and then later realized there is a slight problem with the plug inside the laptop. This we discovered a little too late as it ruined the recommended adapter tip to use with the Thinkpad (the plastic around the tip melted a bit). Anyway, the adapter now has a different tip on it that actually fits the plug. However, the plug is still fussy. Plugging in the power cord adapter when the laptop battery is almost discharged now tends to shut the laptop off. The screen likes to flicker on and off when you start up the laptop. My solution to this, believe it or not, is to keep adjusting the brightnesss of the screen until it stabilizes. In any case, it was getting very frustrating using a laptop that seems to want to die out soon. So reluctantly using some credit, I decided to buy a new laptop.

After some internet comparative shopping, I settled on purchasing the Acer Travelmate 2428 (TM2428). I was thinking of buying the Lenovo C100 offered through Tiger Direct, but then I saw that Future Shop had the Acer TM2428 on sale for the same price as the Lenovo C100. Quickly, looking at Tiger Direct, I noticed that they were selling the same Acer for a higher price. In addition, Future Shop gave me the option of being able to pick up my laptop purchase at the store. On the other hand, buying from Tiger Direct meant having the laptop shipped to me which meant having to pay extra dollars in shipping charges. I also looked at some reviews for both laptops and concluded the Acer was a better model. People seemed to have more positive things to say about the Acer model than the Lenovo one (Lenovo, by the way, bought the IBM Thinkpad line).

After much hemming and hawing, and basically fighting with myself over spending so much money, I ordered my laptop online at Future Shop on Thursday. Future Shop is nicely convenient in that you can pick up your order within three hours after receiving store confirmation through email that they have the item. With a printout of the email and the credit card you ordered with, you can go to the store to pick up your order. You also don’t pay online if you select pick-up instead of shipping. So, I headed down to the nearest Future Shop and picked up my new laptop. 😀

The Acer Travelmate 2428 is a nicely designed model.

For those who care about the health of their fingers and hands, the TM2428 comes with an ergonomically designed keyboard, the Acer FineTouch (the whole Travelmate line comes with this keyboard, as far as I know). It is curved in a smile somewhat. The keys tap nicely. The only problem I’ve been having is getting used to having the “Del”, “Home”, “Pg Up”, “Pg Dn”, and “End” keys running down the right side of the keyboard snug up against the backspace, enter, and right shift keys. If you’re anything like me, you got used to using the backspace and the enter keys as “touch markers” for the end of the keyboard, that is, when my hands aren’t on the keyboard typing, I usually can find the backspace and enter key without looking. Now, I have to remind myself that there are extra keys on that side of the keyboard. The other thing that I have to keep reminding myself is to not hit the “Del” key accidentally. The “Del” key is located on the Acer keyboard in the top right corner – that’s right, where the “Pg Up” key is on other keyboards. Again, if you’re like me, you’re used to having your finger at the top right corner of the laptop when reading web pages or when scrolling through your file manager or email. Eek! Trying not to delete files or emails accidentally.

The keyboard is embedded which means you can hit Fn+F11 to activate “NumLk”, and you will have number keypad along with the basic mathematical operators to use if you are doing calculations. You can also use cursor-control keys that you would normally find on the number keypad of traditional computer keyboards. You can do this regardless of “NumLk” being on or off by using the shift key or the function key. The keyboard also includes additional keys for “euro” and “dollar” signs. These two keys are found on either side of the up direction key. Additionally, you can type in the euro sign using the right “alt” key and the number five key.

The touchpad is a little sensitive for me (most of them are), but that can be fixed under your touchpad options. The touchpad comes with your normal left and right click buttons. This one also includes a directional (four-way) scroll button located between the left and right click buttons. It’s not quite as fast as a scroll wheel on a normal mouse, but it is handy to have on the keyboard. When in a web browser, the left and right directional keys on the scroll button move “back” and “forward” a page. Nice! The laptop does not have a touchpoint – this seems to be the norm for laptops as I have not seen many laptops with a touchpoint. It’s too bad because the touchpoint can be more precise than the touchpad, and it’s not overly sensitive as the touchpad seems to be. (I’ve accidentally grazed the touchpad resulting in a “click” action, and opened a program, window, or dialogue box, or clicked an internet link.) The old IBM Thinkpad T20 has a touchpoint. Nathan’s laptop is the only model I’ve seen that has both a touchpad and a touchpoint. If you really don’t like the touchpad, you have to option of turning it off using Fn+F7 while you plug a mouse into one of the three USB ports.

TM2428 has a very nice screen that reduces glare. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll like this. My eyes tend to glaze over a bit if I’ve been on the computer for too long, say, all day. The glare reduction aids immensely for me when I’m trying to do a load of work on the laptop. I still get the glazed eyes sometimes, but the glare reduction increases my tolerance for looking at computer screens for too long.

Built into the top panel of the laptop are two PIFA antennae that boosts your wireless signal. This is Acer SignalUp wireless technology. Reportedly, with this technology, the wireless signal reach is 25 to 30% higher than in other laptops. This is excellent for the wireless world out there. I actually did not know this when I bought the laptop, but found this out when I did some research on what comes with it. The SignalUp technology is reportedly being built into all of Acer’s newer laptops. The laptop also comes with Bluetooth capabilities for those who use Bluetooth devices.

The TM2428 I bought comes with a CD-RW/DVD combo. A DVD burner option is available. The CD/DVD ejects out the left side of the laptop as opposed to the front or the right side. This is more convenient when sitting down with your laptop in your… well… lap. I found it particularly annoying having the CD/DVD eject out the right side since the mouse is on the right side (if you opt to use a mouse instead of the touchpoint). Speaking of the mouse, it plugs into the USB port of the right side of the laptop – convenient as you don’t have to drap your mouse cord around the laptop.

The speakers are located in the front of the laptop along with the microphone, line-in, and headphones/speaker/line-out jack. Battery indicator and power LED are located in the front. The power button also has a light indicator. When the laptop is on, the power button is glowing green. The wireless LAN and the Bluetooth also have LED indicators in the front beside their respective on/off switches. With a switch, you can turn your wireless connection and off.

TM2428 also comes with four quick launch buttons (aka “hot keys”). They are for internet, email, Acer’s Empowering Technology, and one extra. They are all programmable. Acer would like you to use their Empowering Technology, but it is not required. It takes up a considerable amount of drive space for something that just duplicates what can be done in either Windows or Debian GNU/Linux. Basically, you have two extra programmable launch buttons in addition to the internet and email quick launch buttons. These buttons are located conveniently beside the power button.

The battery pack is located at the bottom back of the laptop. You can plug in an additional monitor at the back. The ethernet and modem jacks are located at the back right. The power cord plugs into the back. The power cord tip is conveniently shaped like an “L” to reduce wear and tear on the tip from having gravity pull on the cord. For the security of your laptop, there is a Kensington lock slot built in.

The TM2428 I bought came with Windows XP Home Edition pre-loaded. You can go ahead with this operating system or you can opt to use something else like Windows XP Professional or GNU/Linux. The laptop is nicely configured for Windows XP (either version), but can run nicely with GNU/Linux and Gnome. With GNU/Linux though, you have to do some work to get the quick launch buttons to work, and I have no idea how to get the wireless LED indicator to work in Debian GNU/Linux.

I have both Windows XP Professional and Debian GNU/Linux with Gnome installed on the TM2428. For those who are interested, I’ve listed below the specifications that came with the purchased TM2428:

Platform: Intel Centrino 735a
Screen Size: 14.1″
RAM (Preloaded) 256MB DDR RAM (can be upgraded to 2GB)
Hard Drive 40GB 4200RPM
Optical Drives CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo Drive
Graphics 128MB (Shared) Intel GMA 900
Average Battery Life 2.5 Hours
Product Weight 2.7 kg
Audio Type Intel High Definition Audio
Battery Type Lithium-Ion
Cache 1MB L2
Fax/Modem 56K V.92
I/O Ports 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x VGA
Network Card 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11 b/g Wireless
Other Software Acer Empowering Technology, Acer GridVista, Acer Launch Manager, Adobe Reader, CyberLink PowerDVD, Norton Antivirus, NTI CD-Maker
PC Card Slots 1 Type II
Pointing Device Touchpad
Preloaded Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Processor Speed 1.7GHz
Product Dimensions 36.3(W) x 3.3(H) x 27.5(D) cm
Removable Storage None
Screen Type TFT LCD
Speakers Acer
System Bus 400MHz

The Acer Travelmate 2428 seems to be a good laptop. For those who appreciate the aesthestics of design, you’ll enjoy using this laptop. Since I’ve only had this laptop for a few days, I cannot give a full assessment of it in terms of functionality. I haven’t really used the CD burner yet. So far, everything seems to work really well. I think the wireless antennae in the top panel makes a difference to the wireless connection, but I wouldn’t really know unless I took the laptop somewhere to check out the signal. A 40GB hard drive may be small for some people, but I don’t keep much on the computer hard drive since I don’t play many games, and I tend to burn things to CD to keep. As long as the laptop works and I can use it, it should be fine for me. My only wish is that it came with a DVD burner, but stand-alone burners are available. I haven’t quite done much multi-tasking yet on this laptop. I’ll have to follow up with a review as to how the laptop holds up when I have music playing, and I’m doing all sorts of work related tasks (e.g., internet research, word document production, file transferring to server, and using email).

You can read PC Magazine’s review of another Acer Travelmate laptop and compare it with PC Magazine’s review of Lenovo C100. Pictures of the laptops are provided with the reviews.

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Training Update – July 22 to 30, 2006

Monday, July 31st, 2006

MM,

Not as much exercise this week as normal. It has been a strange week for me. I did get some running in though.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I decided to do my two-mile route. I ran a mile and a half, then walked/ran the last half mile because I was getting a small cramp. It was very hot and humid out again, and I think I didn’t give my body enough time to absorb the water I drank. My time for the mile and a half was 12 minutes 23 seconds – my fastest time for that distance so far. :) I was pushing my speed a bit on the mile and a half. I want to get my speed up a bit. Hopefully, I should be able to run two miles straight in just under 16 minutes, as my time for a mile is now under 8 minutes.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I went for another run. I ended up only going for a mile and a half because I was getting cramps again. This time they were considerably worse than on Saturday, so I decided to take it easy and walk a bit. I ended up walking much of the way back, with a little bit of light running in between. The cramps were too much – think I was bloated again. My total time was 15 minutes 57 seconds – slow for a run, but a good walk for a mile and a half.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I decided to take today a little easy since I cramped up the last couple of runs. I decided to go for a mile and half run. I did a good run, I wasn’t cramping up anymore. My time was 12 minutes 1 second – my fastest time now since this beats the time from the Saturday. :) I’m happy with that. Getting closer to being able to run two miles in about 16 minutes. My pace now is an eight-minute-mile. Keeping that pace for the extra distance means 12 minutes for a mile and a half and 16 minutes for two miles. Working up to three miles, the time would be 24 minutes. Double the time for the three miles mean 48 minutes for 6 miles. Recall a 10k is 6.25 miles (approximately). Therefore, an eight-minute-mile pace will complete a 10k in under an hour. Right now though I’ll just be happy if I can run three miles in 24 minutes.

BB,
Cassandrah
(who typed this blog using her brand new laptop – see next post)
Brigid’s Flame

Commentary on Deepa Mehta’s Water

Friday, July 21st, 2006

MM,

Unlike most people who have already seen Deepa Mehta’s Water, I had different motivations for watching it. My primary reason was one of cultural and historical interest as well as exposing myself to a different spiritual background.

Note: This commentary is primarily for those who have seen the movie. If you have not seen the movie, please be aware that a considerable amount of the plot is given as well as dialogue and some scene descriptions.

Water has been grabbed onto by feminists as a movie with a veiled cry for “help” from Hindu widows; however, the messages to be found in the movie are much more philosophical and spiritual. The movie shows the complexity of a society in the beginning of political and social changes. The setting is India in 1938 around the time when Ghandi held much influence. Changes are brought about by the influx of Western societal ideals as provided to East Indians by the British Empire. Western ideals, however, have both a positive and negative impact on the Hindu beliefs already firmly held in India.

Along with a complex social and political background, the story centers around three widows – all of different ages. One is a child, Chuyia, who is roughly eight or nine years old. The second is a young woman, Kalyani, who is around her tweens, probably not meant to be older than twenty-five. The third is an older women, Shakuntala, probably meant to be in her fourties or early fifties.

The movie starts off with Chuyia becoming a widow after her husband dies from an illness. Her father comes into the scene and wakes her. He asks her if she remembers being married. Chuyia replies “No.” Her father tells her that her husband has died and that she is now a widow. Chuyia asks her father how long she must be a widow. Next, Chuyia is brought to an ashram where other widows live together. Before being allowed in, she runs inside, looks around quickly and runs back out to her father. She begs him to take her back home. Her father looks at her sadly and says that this is her home now. Chuyia then asks where her mother is if this is her home. Someone comes to the doorway and drags Chuyia inside while she screams that she wants to leave. Her father resignedly watches his young daughter newly widowed being dragged away by a stranger.

Here is where we meet the other two main characters. First, we meet Shakuntala, who becomes a mother figure to Chuyia. Next, we meet Kalyani, a beautiful young woman, who takes to Chuyia like an older sister.

At first, Chuyia believes that her mother will come and take her home. As time passes and she settles into a daily routine at the ashram, Chuyia realizes that her mother isn’t coming for her and that this is her home now. Even that thought though does not destroy Chuyia’s spirit. She’s a feisty child and strong-willed.

Shakuntala is just as strong-willed, but more disciplined. She spends time with a Priest, learns from him, and develops a spiritual strength, resilience, and determination. He tells her to never lose faith. She never does. It is Shakuntala who helps Chuyia in the end. The movie ends with a seeming hint that maybe Shakuntala’s help does not just end with Chuyia. Shakuntala seems to realize now that she has power to do something to change the fates of those around her. There is hope where there is faith because through faith there is strength, resilience, and determination.

It is Kalyani’s story though that the audience seems to remember most, although it is Chuyia who is the central figure. Kalyani, while out with Chuyia, one day meets a newly educated lawyer, Narayan, who happens to be a follower of Ghandi’s teachings. They are, of course, instantly attracted to each other. Narayan knows that Kalyani is a widow, but doesn’t care. He asks for her address so he could escort her home. Kalyani and Chuyia tell him and walk away.

With the introduction of Narayan, the movie gives us a glimpse of the differences in social classes in India in 1938. India retained a caste system that is based on myth. Narayan is a gentry and is for all practical purposes better off than Kalyani is as a widow. Kalyani is occasionally prostituted out by the lady who runs the ashram. Narayan promises to marry Kalyani, even though traditionalists believe a widow should never re-marry. Later, Shakuntala (and the audience finds out) that a law has just been recently passed allowing a widow to re-marry. Why has it not been mentioned before? Simply because humans tend to “ignore the laws that don’t benefit us”.

Throughout the first part of the movie, some scenes displaying beliefs about widows are shown. It is considered bad luck for a widow’s shadow to touch a bride. It is considered contamination for someone other than a widow to be touched by a widow. It is also considered a sin for a man to desire a widow. These beliefs are mitigated by the influx of Western societal ideals with some positive and some negative effects. It is Western societal ideals, the so-called “liberal thinking”, that has eased some men’s consciences about keeping a mistress or using a widow as a prostitute. This is portrayed in a scene between Narayan and his father.

Narayan’s father: “Brahmins can sleep with whomever they want, and the women they sleep with are blessed.”
Narayan: “Do you know Lord Ram told his brother, never to honor those Brahmins, who interpret the Holy Texts for their own benefit?”

Social and political changes that are occuring in 1938 India are discussed between Narayan and Kalyani at one of their first meetings alone.

Kalyani: “Are you gentry?”
Narayan: “Would it matter if I was?”
Kalyani: “Yes.”
Narayan: “I just finished my law exams. When did you become a widow?”
Kalyani: “I don’t remember. Maybe when I was nine.”
Narayan: “Was your husband good to you?”
Kalyani: “I never met him. Anyone else in your house?”
Narayan: “My mother, my father, Sadhuramji. No, I’m not married.”
Kalyani: “Good God! Why not?”
Narayan: “My father says, childhood is a time for play, not for marriage.”
Kalyani: “And your mother?”
Narayan: “If she had her way, I’d have a daughter as old as Chuyia.”
Kalyani: “Your mother’s right. That’s how things are.”
Narayan: “That’s how things were. Times are changing. All the old traditions are dying out.”
Kalyani: “All of them? But what is good should not die out.”
Narayan: “And who will decide what is good and what is not?”

This one scene has much to say about the movie. Things are changing in their society, but who is to decide what is good and what is not? Western societal beliefs are not necessarily better than Narayan’s and Kalyani’s Hindu ones. One must use personal judgment in deciding what is good out of the two. Things are never black and white.

A deep spirituality is portrayed by not only Shakuntala, but also by Narayan. The following dialogue gives us his perspective.

Narayan: “It’s from Kalida’s poem, ‘Meghdoot’.”
Kalyani: “I can’t read. Shakuntala Didi read your letter.”
Narayan: “Do you know what ‘Meghdoot’ is?”
Kalyani shakes her head “no”
Narayan: “In Sanskrit, megh means a raincloud, and doot, a messenger. The poem is about the pain of separation between two lovers.”
Kalyani: “Continue.”
Narayan: “The lover tells the cloud, it resembles Lord Vishnu in Krishna’s guise, gleaming with peacock feathers.”
Kalyani: “And the cloud heard him? How is that possible?”
Narayan: “If we believe that a statue of God can hear us, why not a cloud?”

One of the most beautiful and spiritually moving scenes in the film is the vigil the widows hold for their eldest who is dying. This is a beautiful woman called Patiraji, whom they all call “Auntie”. They take Auntie outside at her request. Auntie dies without any valuables to pay for her cremation, but Kalyani donates her savings for her cremation so that Auntie will have her proper last rites. Auntie does not die unhappily though. Throughout the movie, Auntie wishes for “yellow ladoos”, a sweet treat eaten at Hindu weddings. In a previous scene, Chuyia, after having begged for money, decides to buy a ladoo. She returns the the ashram, wakes up Auntie, and leaves her the yellow ladoo. Auntie eats the ladoo cherishing it with absolute happiness expressed in her face. Interestingly, Auntie dies later after having eaten the yellow ladoo. It seems it was the one thing she wanted before dying, and now that her wish was granted through the willfulness of a little child, she could let go and pass on.

The issue of choice comes up in the movie. Choices exist for these women even if they cannot see all of them. In many ways, this is what makes the movie sad. There is choice, but the women don’t see it and can’t seem to pull themselves out of their seeming fate. They have just accepted (even this is a choice!) what they are told is their destiny, without question, with little realization of the changes in the world outside their ashram. Ghandi in this movie is an avatar of positive change. Somewhat not surprisingly, it is Shakuntala who discovers this and that there are choices to be made, and this moves her to action. The changes that are occuring in her society now provide her with opportunities to change the fate of those around her – and she takes them. It is through Shakuntala that there is hope and choice.

The movie is beautifully filmed. The setting is almost idyllic. Some people may be appalled at the way the widows live, but this stems from a Western idealistic bias. (People in many Oriental countries sleep on rice mats on the floor, but that doesn’t mean they are impoverished. They just lead a much simpler life.) In North American society, we send our elderly to nursing homes because it is more convenient and less time-consuming than trying to take care of an elderly parent ourselves. Is this treatment of people we think of as no longer having any purpose for society really any better? In filming the everyday lives of the widows, Mehta has managed to portray a simple beauty that is difficult to find in Western society.

It is unfortunate that some people have seized upon just the political issue in the movie ignoring Mehta’s other messages in the movie. Many people seem to forget that the movie is a fictional drama, that is, the movie is specially created to evoke an emotional response. Adding the following blurb…

“There are over 34 million widows in India according to the 2001 Census. Many continue to live in conditions of social, economic and cultural deprivation as prescribed 2000 years ago by the Sacred Texts of Manu.”

…at the end of the movie further flames the burning feeling of injustice and inequality many feminists feel after watching this movie. However, note the small tiny detail in the blurb only gives the vague quantifier “many” instead of an actual figure of how many widows still live in ashrams. Also realize that it is not the Sacred Texts that should be blamed, but the interpretation of the texts. It is unfortunate too that these same people don’t take the time to question, research, and find out what really is the situation of Hindu widows. Had they done so, they would learn that the practices depicted in this movie, taking place in 1938 nearly 70 years ago, are practiced primarily in small towns and villages. The practice is virtually outdated in major cities in India. (This was confirmed through a personal Hindu friend of Nathan’s who recently returned to North America from a visit to India.) That’s not to say there are no widows living in ashrams – they would have been placed there years ago and stayed there until now – but there aren’t many new widows being forced to live in ashrams. What has to be said that isn’t being said is that the practice is fading out probably along with the practice of child brides given to older men, which is the real issue why there are so many widows to begin with.

What isn’t explained in the movie is how the Hindu religious practices developed. Before the practice was banned, fundamentalist Hindus used to practice “sati”. This was a religious practice named after the goddess Sati. The religious practice involved immolating the widow. The idea was that if the widow immolated herself on the husband’s funeral pyre, they both would receive rewards in the afterlife. Some time later, the British made the practice illegal (even if the widow was willing to immolate herself, basically a self-sacrifice). After sati was made illegal, fundamentalist Hindus began practicing what they now call “cold sati”, yes, the enforced widowhood that is depicted in Water. Apparently, they couldn’t figure out what to do with the widows because their scriptures didn’t make it clear what to do aside from the practice of sati.

There have been changes over the past 70 years regarding Hindu widows. Widows are allowed to re-marry and real examples exist as shown in this message post. The widows do inherit their deceased husband’s money and property. They lose it if they re-marry since they would share in the property of the next husband. (This I find particularly interesting because it prevents the “Black Widow” syndrome where some women keep re-marrying old, rich men just so they can inherit the money and property.) Since widows would lose property if they re-marry, some may well choose not to. Hindu women do have specific rights. The problem is that not all Hindu women are educated, and even if they are, they don’t take advantage of their rights. Also, people still believe what is written in their scriptures, but efforts to educate their society is currently taking place.

It is unfortunate that this movie is banned in India for the messages in this movie need to be heard by the same society that is depicted in the film. The country needs to be encouraged to talk about the issues there – this will allow real healing for the country as a whole to begin. The movie is not intended to point fingers at people, but rather to open intelligent discussion about many different issues that India and Hindus face. Of course, it is not easy for any country to look at its past mistakes – would you like your most shameful moment be depicted for the whole world to see? The movie may not only affect fundamentalist sensitivities, but also those remaining widows who grew up like those depicted in the movie. The movie is sure to bring up painful memories for these women, who may have finally gained some freedom and moved on.

Water and the issue of Hindu widows has become sensationalized by an primarily emotional audience who have yet to put the movie into a larger perspective. Yes, there is an inequality being presented here, but there is also inequality and injustice all over the world. (Visit Amnesty International.) There are women being abused in every country of the world. There are other people besides women being mistreated in many parts of the world. Someone somewhere is suffering (I’m reminded of the documentary Scared Sacred). Who’s to say if one group’s suffering is greater than another’s? If one really believes in equality, one should show compassion just as equally. Don’t get fixated on the small picture. The real issue here is about human dignity – not just women’s, but every single human being. As humans we need to treat each other better – regardless of race, gender, culture, spirituality or religion, age, social group, disability (politically correct to call it “differently abled”), or intelligence.

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Additional information:

Women in Hinduism (Wikipedia article)
Women in White: India’s Widows
Widows Unite to Throw Off Loneliness
Plight of Hindu Widows
Widows’ Rights and their Implementation
SC Ruling on Adoption by Hindu Widows

Training update – July 17 to 19, 2006

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Monday, July 17, 2006

Nathan and I went to the gym. I decided I needed some conditioning training more than the do jang.

Leg lifts
Pull-ups (aka chin-ups, military and parallel)
Dips
Leg press
Hamstring flexor (called seated leg curls)
Hip adductors
Hip abductors
Seated row
Bar pulls (I think this is called the lateral pull-downs; it works the muscles next to the scapulae on the back)
Seated chest press
Pectoral fly
Shoulder fly
Shoulder lift (this is called the shoulder press)
Back extensor

Free weights:
Situps (on a incline bench; worked out the obliques as well by doing double punches during the situp)
Bicep curls
Weighted squats
Shoulder strengthening

Then I did 20 minutes on the bicycle to work out my knee. This was good to do after having done so much running since the bicycle works the quads and the hamstrings without impact on the knee, the shin, or the calves.

Nathan and I did some stretching, and then we went home.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I went for a run. I decided to do my two-mile route. I’m working on increasing my speed now for the longer runs. I ran one mile in 7 minutes 55 seconds, my fastest time so far. I took a small break and paced a bit to relax my muscles and breathing then started running the one mile back. I ran for another 6 minutes 40 seconds, then decided to walk the rest of the way back. It was still very hot and humid, and I ran faster for the first mile. Plus, I was only 300 metres away from home, sometimes a swift walk is just as good. In total, I ran 1.8 miles (2.9 km) in 14 minutes 35 seconds. My fastest two mile time is 17 minutes 30 seconds, but I should be able to beat that time soon. Ah, sometimes nothing feels better than to know that you’re getting better at something.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I went to the do jang finally. It’s been a while, but it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m a second dan. That’s okay. Just keep training as usual and learning. I probably should try to get in earlier to teach more often. I ended up taking two classes – an hour and a half of training. It was hot again, but surprisingly I wasn’t too tired in class. It must have been from running the 10k. 😀 It’s increased my endurance overall – a really good thing.

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Recovery Run

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

MM,

I went for a run today. It’s been a good 72 hours since I last exercised. I think I’ve recovered a bit. Besides, it’s not good for me to rest my knee for too long as I tend to get fluid buildup.

I decided to try a two-mile run. If I couldn’t finish the two-mile – that’s okay. I could walk some and that will help stretch out and warm up my leg muscles. I ended up doing a solid one-mile run. My time was 8 minutes 10 seconds. After the one mile, I walked a bit to work out the muscles, then ran again. I ran for about a half mile, then decided to walk most of the way back. A fast walk for a while helps to loosen up the muscles again – especially the shins and the calves.

I feel pretty good. I definitely think the 10k run has helped to increase my endurance and even my speed overall. It has increased strength in my leg muscles, which is important to prevent injuring the knee more in taekwondo. My cardio endurance has also improved over the year. After the run today, I felt like I could do more cardio-wise, but it was really just sore muscles that prevented me from doing more cardio.

I think the running has helped to improve my endurance for taekwondo sparring as well. One of the key things in sparring is being nimble and quick. The running helps because it increases the strength of the calves and the shins and increases your cardio endurance. For any taekwondoist who’s interested in getting better at sparring or in competition, I definitely recommend adding some running to your training program. You might notice that your kicks will be stronger and sharper.

It’s strange that I used to dislike running, but now I actually look forward to it at times. It feels good. When running outside, it feels good to get some air in the lungs. I also feel a connection to the earth – that alone makes the rest of the day more pleasant to deal with.

In about four months, there is another black belt test (other students are ready to test by then). I will definitely be running the 10k then as well – although, I won’t have to run the whole thing if I don’t want to, and I won’t have to do a test afterwards. It will be good for me to keep up with the running. In fact, I think I’m going to keep trying to get better at it. While I am not particularly concerned with competition, I like to beat my own best. I like challenging myself – it keeps me going. Either way, it will keep me feeling good and healthy. Running really is one of the best things you can do for your health.

For those who have knee or ankle problems or worry about the impact on the knees or ankles, I recommend finding a good personal trainer and a sports doctor (or just ask a physiotherapist) to help you determine how best to get ready for running. You need to make sure you have good form, that is, you need to have good alignment of the feet and the knees with your body. This is VERY important. Bad alignment is one reason why people hurt themselves with running. Everyone is different when it comes to body alignment, but there is a standard. Try to keep your toes pointed forward. Don’t run too much on the inside or outside of your feet. Try to keep your knees pointed forward. Some people’s knees turn in or out too much and that can cause problems later. Make sure to push off with your toes to keep forward motion. This prevents you from landing too hard on your feet. Also, make sure to get the proper shoes for your running style – some people run primarily on their toes while others use the heel-to-toe motion. Having proper shoes that cushion the right part of your foot is important. So, it’s always good to shop around for the proper shoes.

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Post-10k Run and Black Belt Test – Why Run and How Much Recovery Time?

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

MM,

Some people might wonder why a taekwondo do jang would make its students run a 10k as part of the black belt test. Here is my Master’s philosophy.

He already knows how good his students are; otherwise, they would not be testing for their black belts. What he wants to know most is what kind of person and character his students are. While he does not expect his students to be elite 10k runners, he wants to see how determined and disciplined his students are when it comes to getting a black belt.

Essentially, my Master wants to know if his students have developed spiritually as well as physically. Most people think it’s easy to get a black belt, but the training can be hard or easy depending on the person. By making his students run a 10k for the test, my Master knows that a person is really serious about their martial arts training and will be more likely to continue training because they worked so hard to achieve it. After running a 10k, it takes solid determination to get through the rest of the test. Elite 10k runners try to complete the run as fast as possible – they do not have to ensure they have enough energy remaining in order to do more after. For a martial artist to run a 10k, we have to ensure that our muscles are NOT thoroughly exhausted afterward because we have the test to go through. Traditionally, a martial artist during a time of war should be able to run and continue to fight after.

After the 10k run and black belt test, I wanted to know how much time my leg muscles needed to recover. If you are cross-training your martial arts with running, the following should be of particular interest to you. I found out that after a tough run (well, tough enough for me since I’ve never run a 10k before Saturday) followed by a black belt test, it’s not a good idea to head out for a run or to the do jang for a strenuous martial arts kicking class in the next few days immediately after. Here’s why.

According to this article, Leg muscle injuries: how badly does a 10K race injure your leg muscles?, the leg muscles take quite a beating after running 10 km. The muscle most notably affected by running is the hamstring. The hamstring muscles perform a key role in running, which is to control forward acceleration of the leg during the swing phase of the runner’s gait. The use of the hamstrings like this in running is called “eccentric action”. Eccentric action occurs when the hamstrings are producing force while being stretched. It has been noted that eccentric activity of the muscles has a tendency to induce injury and to reduce muscle function. The effect on the hamstrings from running a 10k is referred to as “hamstring trauma”. From this information we can conclude that after running a 10k, the hamstring muscles have been sufficiently worked out and probably need a rest.

Now, let’s consider what happens while executing specific kicks in taekwondo. There are quite a few kicks in taekwondo that rely heavily on the hamstrings – these are front snap kick, axe kick, roundhouse kick, hook kick, and spinning hook kick. (The side kick and back kick requires the gluteus and the quads more than the hamstrings.) For the axe kick, the hamstrings are stretched when the leg is brought straight up. This can be a sudden shock to the hamstrings if they are not properly warmed up beforehand. For the front snap kick and the roundhouse kick, the hamstrings are used to help pull the leg back after extension of the kick. Essentially, the hamstrings provide resistance to the kick so that muscles and knee ligaments aren’t pulled when kicking. This action in the kick is done quite sharply and requires strong hamstring muscles. For the hook kick and spinning hook kick, the hamstrings are primarily used to help pull the leg back after kicking. This is, like the front snap kick and roundhouse kick, done quite sharply and requires strong hamstring muscles. All of these kicks were required during the black belt test after running a 10k. Therefore, the hamstrings were not given time to rest after the 10k run. They were required to perform sharp action after experiencing slight trauma from the running. The effects of the running on the hamstrings can be felt by the martial artist as a heaviness in the legs and sub-par performance when executing kicks. Basically, the martial artist is experiencing slight hamstring trauma and is probably providing more trauma to the hamstrings with every kick.

Because of the amount of work the hamstrings do during running and the additional work done during kicking, the hamstrings require some more recovery time than the other muscles in the leg. In the above article, the researchers found that “Immediately after the race, there was a significant decrease in peak torque produced by the hamstrings during knee flexion…” and that this loss was only restored after 48 hours. The researchers also found that “the hamstrings exhibited losses in total exercise capacity and average power immediately after the race” – this too was restored after 48 hours. Further to this, the researchers found that “total work performed by the hamstrings over the last 17 reps of the 50-repetition test was significantly reduced right after the race – and also after 48 hours”. This indicated that the hamstrings had not restored their ability for endurance work. Additionally, the researchers found that there were “significant reductions in peak vertical jump force” which stayed reduced 48-hours post-10k run. Based on these findings, the article suggests waiting 72 hours before conducting any high strenuous running.

Although, we did not run the 10k as fast as the runners did in the research given in the above article, I think it is reasonable to assume that the added trauma of kicking after running a 10k would have similar findings as in the research with the 10k runners. Therefore, I think it would be safe to wait at least 72 hours before running again or engaging in a strenuous martial arts kicking class (besides, my body still feels sore and tired). As much as I don’t like being still for too long, I guess I’ll have to suck it up and rest. 😉

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress and martial artist
Brigid’s Flame

10k Run and Black Belt Test Recap – July 8 and 9, 2006

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

MM,

Saturday, Nathan and I arrived at the do jang at 7 a.m., and then headed out to Central Tech track. (Many, many thanks to Nathan for getting up so early to accompany me and then watching my whole test! It’s always great to have someone you love be there to support you.) Some people started earlier around 6:30 a.m. I started my run at about 7:15 a.m. In order to make the run seem less overwhelming, trainers recommend that the run be broken down into manageable sections. The track at Central Tech is a standard competition track, which means one lap is 400m. To do a 10k run, you have to complete 25 laps. Below is a breakdown of my run with times for each section.

  1. laps 1 through 4 (4 laps: 1.6 km=1 mile) – 10 minutes 10 seconds
  2. laps 5 through 10 (6 laps: 2.4 km=1.5 miles) – 15 minutes 49 seconds
  3. laps 11 through 14 (4 laps: 1.6 km=1 mile) – 11 minutes 24 seconds
  4. laps 15 through 18 (4 laps: 1.6 km=1 mile) – 12 minutes 19 seconds (includes some walking time here – at most 1 lap, walked half of lap 15, then ran second half of lap 15, ran most of lap 16 through 18)
  5. lap 19 (1 lap: 400 m=quarter mile) – 4 minutes 12 seconds (walked most of lap 19)
  6. laps 20 through 23 (4 laps: 1.6 km=1 mile) – 11 minutes 58 seconds
  7. laps 24 and 25 (2 laps: 800m=half mile) – 5 minutes 16 seconds

My total time for the 10k was 1 hour 11 minutes 7 seconds. This averages out to 7 minutes 7 seconds per km or 11 minutes 23 seconds per mile. This is comparable to my 5.7 km run of 35 minutes. That run averaged out to 6 minutes 8 seconds per km. My fastest time for a mile is 7 minutes 57 seconds, basically an 8 minute mile.

After the run, we headed back to the do jang and did 1000 skips or jumping jacks. Now, if you’ve never run a 10k before, trying to do jumping or skipping afterwards is a big challenge. It’s not like we had plenty of time to rest in between. We were given time to change into our taekwondo uniforms, then we had to do the 1000 skips/jumps. I ended up doing 800 skips using a skipping rope and 200 jumping jacks. The skipping was actually harder because as Nathan pointed out, I don’t just jump when skipping – I bounce between the skips. It’s pretty much a hop-jump.

Then finally, after the 1000 skips/jumps, we had a break in order to stretch out. I tried to stretch out, but my muscles were so tight that stretching them out was a little hard. I had to let them just relax first and then try to stretch. My calves had the worst of it I think. They cramped up a few times during the test, but mostly because we had to sit down sometimes while watching other people test. My solution was to rub and pat my calves and leg muscles for a bit to warm them up again. I was lucky I didn’t cramp up too bad before I had to stand back up and do some more patterns.

The next part of our test was a written test, which was actually very short. It took me about fifteen minutes to finish. Surprisingly, we didn’t get tested on terminology and only on a little bit of the history. I can’t believe I studied so much! Now, I can say “kam sa ham nida” for your support, dear readers!

After the written test, we had a five minute break. Then we lined up for the curriculum part of our test. We did our poomse (patterns) first. Every single one of them up to our belt level. For me, this was all eight Taeguks (colour belt patterns) and Koryo poomse (the first dan pattern named for Korea’s second dynasty). We first did the patterns as a whole class, then we were broken up into groups and had to do three random patterns selected by the Master. Lastly, we got to do whichever pattern we preferred. I chose Taeguk chil jang (Taeguk #7). Funny enough, many of the black belts decided to do chil jang. It seems to be a favourite amongst taekwondoists.

The next part of the curriculum is one-step sparring. One-step sparring is designed to help the martial artist develop control over their techniques. It is done in pairs with one person pretending to attack the other. The person defending has to execute their one-step techniques without actually hurting the attacker, that is, the defender can lightly tap the other person or kick about an inch away from the other person’s face. Since I was testing for second dan, I had fifteen different one-steps to do, and we had to do the techniques on both left and right side. That’s a total of thirty sets to go through per person. Afterward, we had to demonstrate the one-step techniques we created. Those testing for their first dan had to make up three one-step techniques, and those testing for second dan and up had to make up five one-step techniques. We had to demonstrate this one person at a time, and this took up a considerable part of the test. I thought my one-steps were okay. I liked some of them better than the others I made up. LOL… I got a small hamstring cramp at the end of executing my first made-up one-step technique. I ended up hopping a bit trying to shake it out, while everyone was watching. *blush, blush* It went away after I shook my leg out a bit. It was mostly from having to sit down and then having to get up and do a hook kick followed by a roundhouse kick – both kicks require the hamstring to execute properly.

After everyone demonstrated their one-step techniques, we did our kicking techniques. (I was being very careful now to not snap my kicks too fast so I wouldn’t get another cramp.) We had ten techniques to do, and each technique is done twice. For those taekwondoists interested, these were really simple. Our kicking techniques starting from white belt are:

middle front snap kick
high front snap kick
axe kick
middle roundhouse kick (roundhouse is referred to by some as “turning kick”)
high roundhouse kick
side kick
slide-step side kick
back kick (also known by some people as “turning side kick”)
spinning hook kick
tornado roundhouse kick (also known as “360 roundhouse”)

Next, we had to spar. After getting our equipment on, which includes shin guards, forearm guards, chest protector, and head gear, the Master selected pairs of people to spar. Although we had head gear on, we were told not to do any high kicks. :( Unfortunate for me, because it is my high kicks that gives me the advantage. I did okay with the sparring I thought, especially for someone who hasn’t been doing much sparring lately. My knee just isn’t always up for it. Although, now that I’m getting stronger because I do weight training still, I think I should get to sparring classes more often. Well, my first sparring opponent was a little heavier than me. Right now, if I competed I’d be in the heavy end of the fly weight division. I weigh 109 to 110 lbs (around 49.5 to 50 kg). My sparring opponent is about ten pounds heavier, I’d guess, so she’d be in the bantam weight division. Believe it or not, but a few pounds makes a big difference in sparring! But I thought I held up fine – I thought I couldn’t even kick after running 10 km. We each sparred twice. My second sparring opponent was a tall kid, who for some reason seemed scared of me. I ended up chasing him out of our imaginary ring a few times. Though, realistically he had a longer reach than me and should have been able to get some good kicks on me.

The last part of our test was board breaking. We all had to do the same techniques for the breaks. We had to do four hand techniques and four kicking techniques. The hand techniques were punch, ridge hand, knife hand, and elbow strike. We were required to break one board with each technique – we could try more if we wanted. The four kicking techniques were front snap kick, side kick, back kick, and spinning hook kick. For the kicking techniques, we technically had to break the same number of boards as the dan level we were testing for, that is, I was supposed to break two boards for each kick.

I decided to try two boards for my punch break. Technically for second dan, we should be able to break two boards together. I punched the two boards hard with my right fist. Something felt wrong. The boards didn’t feel like they were giving way. I moved my fist away and saw that there was an indent where I hit the board with my knuckle. I tried two more times and still couldn’t break the two boards together. There were two more indents where my knuckle hit the board. Although to me, it looked like the boards weren’t breaking, it seems the second board was breaking behind the first board. For some reason the first board was absorbing the power and the second board was breaking. By this time, I thought my hand might be hurting too much. I asked to see the second board. Holding the second board from the top with my left hand, I punched the almost broken board twice with my right punch. It finally broke – the bottom half of it falling to the ground.

The next technique was ridge hand. I hit the single board using my right hand. It didn’t break, and my hand was starting to get sore. I decided to come back to it. The next technique was knife hand. I used my right hand again. One swift move, and this time the board cracked apart. The last technique was elbow strike. I was too close on the first try and had to check my stance. I hit the board once more, and it cracked apart.

Finally, I went back to try the ridge hand. This time I decided to use my left hand, which is stronger overall. I hit the board swiftly with my left ridge hand- this time the board cracked apart. The ridge hand is one of the harder hand techniques to use to break with because it is easy to break the whole hand. For the ridge hand, the striking area is the side with the thumb. The thumb is held tight to the palm and the fingers are extended straight out, similar to a knife hand except the striking area is the opposite side of the hand. I’m just glad I didn’t break my hand doing the ridge hand.

After the hand breaks, I checked my hands out. The left hand was a little red from doing the ridge hand, but thankfully not swollen. I’m noticing now though that I must have hit a nerve in my left hand. If I touch my wrist just below my thumb, I feel tingling in my hand. It reminds me of the nerve damage I had from knee surgery. The redness from my left hand went away fairly fast. The two knuckles on my right hand are bruised from the punching. They were quite swollen at first. The swelling has since gone down a bit, so now it’s mostly just purplish around the two knuckles. I had Nathan do some reiki on my hands right away. Amazingly, it took the swelling down pretty fast.

I was a little bummed out about not being able to punch through two boards. As a colour belt, I broke two boards before using a hammer fist. This time I thought I’d be able to break them with a punch. Unfortunately, I found out later the boards might have been damp from the constant humidity in the summer. This explains why there were indents in the board where I hit it.

After the hand breaks, we did our kicking breaks. I usually don’t have much problems breaking boards with kicks. However, because of the run earlier, my legs felt pretty tired. My legs just didn’t want to do any more work. I suppose because I already tried breaking two boards with a hand technique, the Master decided I didn’t have to do two boards for the kicks. I was given one board for each of the kicking techniques. I snapped the first board easy with my right front snap kick. The side kick was a little harder. I used my left leg. The striking area with the side kick is the blade of the foot, but with my left leg it’s sometimes hard to form the blade. So I switched and broke the board with my right leg side kick. Next was back kick. I ended up doing this one with my right leg again. The last breaking technique was spinning hook kick. It took me three or four tries to break the board. For some reason, I was having problems getting the right balance and flow of the technique. The biggest thing with the spinning hook kick is being able to spin on the supporting foot properly, which means being on the toes. When tired, the muscles in the foot and the leg don’t want to support standing up on the toes to spin so the other leg can come around and kick. In any case, I did break the board. It just took some more effort than normal to get a good kick out.

Finally, we were done our test for the day. We could go home and relax. Most of us had been up since 5 a.m. and the test finished around 2:30 p.m. I actually woke up at 3:30 a.m. that day. I was very tired. I ate a little bit after the test, then went home and washed up a bit. I put ice on my right hand, then crashed on the bed. I woke up later in time to watch The Last Samurai, which happened to be on TV. Excellent sword fighting in that movie. The movie was over by 2:00 a.m. and I ended up back in bed fast asleep. I had to get some rest for the next day, which was the BBQ party and demo.

I woke up a little later than I should have on Sunday at 8:00 a.m. I had to be at the do jang at 9:00 a.m. Unfortunately, I forgot about the subway being closed and for some reason couldn’t catch the night bus on my route heading west. I waited then finally decided that since it was 9:00 a.m. to just walk to the next subway and see if it was open. Apparently, it opens at 9:00 a.m. now. Sheesh… I could have stayed home until almost 9 instead of leaving earlier and waiting a half hour for transit to open. I got to the do jang at 9:15 a.m. We had time to change and practice a little bit, then head out to Christie Pits to help set up for the BBQ.

It was a long morning. The colour belts started showing up around 10:30 for their colour belt test that day. Meanwhile, the black belts testing had nothing much to do, but to practice our demo (Master’s order). The colour belts tested at 11:15 a.m. After their test, we did our black belt demo. Our demo consisted of many board breaking techniques. Everyone got to do something they wanted to do instead of the standard breaks during the test. I was one of the last ones to perform.

I decided earlier to do three spinning hook kicks for the demo – low, middle, high. I was tempted to change the demo to three tornado kicks, as they were actually easier for me that day. I was still tired and my legs still didn’t want to cooperate. Plus, kicking on grass is a little different. The ground is not consistently flat and smooth like the do jang floor, which has special firm padded mats. A small incline can throw your spinning hook kick off. The tornado kick isn’t affected by the ground so much because you’re off the ground during the kick. I did manage to break all the boards with the spinning hook kicks, but not one right after the other as I wanted to. Ah well… we were all tired from the 10k run the other day, so it’s kind of hard to expect us to perform at our best.

After the demo, we each had to give a two to five minute speech. I was a little nervous about my speech, but I guess it was fine. I dislike giving speeches, though in university I was graded well on presentations and speaking. For those who are interested, you can read the text of my speech, Black Belt Means.

After everyone was done their speeches, it was the belt ceremony. We all lined up to receive our new black belts from the Master and to shake hands with the other black belts who were grading us. 😀 Yay! I finally got my second dan belt. Next, we shook hands with the other black belts who graded us and they got to slap/punch us in the shoulder. Well, the guys got punched and the girls got slapped. It’s part of the tradition. The tradition is that a higher belt will pass on some of their power to the new black belts by punching them. After we got our belts, we could finally eat! Yay! Korean BBQ is yummy!

The BBQ party finished at 3:00 p.m. and everyone started to head home. Nathan showed up in time for the black belt demo in order to accompany me home after. When we got home, I washed up and crashed on the bed just like the other day. It had been a long and tiring weekend.

I woke up later that night for a bit, and did some stuff for a few hours. My hand was still sore from the punching the day before. I went back to sleep again, and must have slept like a log because I don’t remember Nathan waking up Monday morning for work. I woke up around noon Monday in time to take my mom to her doctor’s appointment. Afterwards, I spent most of the day relaxing on the couch (and typing up this blog entry).

Overall, I have to say I am happy with this black belt test. When I tested for my first dan, I was still recovering from knee surgery and was not at my peak. I could barely do a spinning hook kick when prior to the injury I could do a half-decent 360 spinning hook kick. One year after surgery, my knee still couldn’t handle the weight bearing. I have since increased my core body strength so that my knee doesn’t feel the weight so much. Having good muscles is essential to martial arts in order to prevent injury. Over the past two years, I have managed to increase my strength past the level I was at before injury. I find this an amazing accomplishment.

I’m pleased that I was able to go through with the test after running a 10k. I’m happy about my performance on the run. When I read my first post about the 10k run, I recall how I wasn’t so sure if I would even like running. I tried it when I was younger and just couldn’t remain disciplined enough to keep training. Maybe it was because this time I had a goal and a purpose for running. I suppose I couldn’t run if it was just for running – the running had a purpose. Running has improved my abilities as a martial artist by increasing my cardio, strength, and endurance. I finished the 10k run in about 1 hour 11 minutes – this is pretty good for someone who doesn’t run for sport or competitively. I can also run 5.7 km in 35 minutes which is a definite improvement when before it took me 45 minutes to cover 5.5 km both walking and running (see my previous post on the trail run.) And I daresay, I showed my cynical side something – I actually like running now! There are days when I will want the run because it feels good to be outside with fresh air and sunshine. I always feel better after a run.

I also feel particularly happy because it has been a long road from first dan to second dan in the past two years. I’ve learned some things, not just about taekwondo, but how to be a better teacher. I still have more to learn, and that is what the being a black belt is about. As a black belt, we focus more on helping others and learn how to be an effective teacher. This means not only being good at what we do, but also requires us to be good role models. It also requires us to be able to read people and try to understand what they are going through at a given time. It means being available for the student when needed, but not interfering when it’s not necessary. It means not letting our ego or desire for admiration dictate our actions, but rather letting others’ need for help guide our actions. In many ways, being a black belt requires compassion and understanding just as much as it requires strict discipline and firmness. I find these are qualities that are very difficult to balance out, and it will take years to find that delicate balance.

As I have been writing this, I’m still pretty tired, and I’m still absorbing everything that’s happened this weekend. It always takes a while before I realize I have achieved a new belt level. It usually doesn’t sink in until I’ve been in class for a few days. For now, I’m just happy to sit back, relax a bit, recharge my personal store of batteries, and just enjoy the achievement. Few people realize or understand how much of an accomplishment it is to advance in a martial art. It really is much to take in, especially at the black belt level.

Funny enough, the gods have deemed it appropriate that this blog entry be the 100th entry under my training diary category! I suppose the gods have blessed my martial arts path. 😀

I still can’t believe I have a second dan. I’m sitting here still waiting for it all to sink in.

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress and black belt
Brigid’s Flame

Tired, but awake

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

MM,

Today’s the day – yay! I can’t wait to get through the test. The biggest challenge will be the 10k, after that the rest of the test is a breeze.

My rune for today is “wunjo”. The divination meanings include glory, joy, success, and recognition of achievements. Looks like today will be a success.

Okay, got to get ready. About 90 minutes left.

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local black belt (2nd dan candidate)
Brigid’s Flame

About posting comments to this blog

Friday, July 7th, 2006

MM,

WordPress has improved its comment posting feature. I’ve set the options allowing anyone to post comments; however, if it is your first time posting a comment, it requires moderator approval before it is posted. After you have a previous post approved, you will be able to post comments without having to wait for approval – just remember to use the same name and email address.

Note that the only reason I have moderation set for comments is because of the amount of spam I’ve received in the past. I’m happy to say that I have not been receiving as much spam recently. 😀

Okay, now… you can comment to your heart’s content.

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame