Archive for June, 2007

Astrology – Science or Superstition?

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Since the advent of “newspaper astrology”, any discussion on astrology begins with “What sign are you?” and then just boils down to generalizations on what qualities and characteristics a person has based on that sign. The “sign” discussed refers to the Sun sign, that is, the sign the Sun was in at the moment you were born. Anyone familiar with astronomy would know that it takes the Earth 365.25 days to orbit the Sun. In terms of astrology, that means that the sun is found in one of the twelve astrological signs for approximately 30 days. This then means that everyone born within that 30 day period would have the same Sun sign. Hence, the generalization involved when only discussing “newspaper astrology” – it really only discusses Sun signs. Considering most people’s exposure to astrology is only “newspaper astrology”, one understands the general public’s dismissal of astrology as a serious “science”.

“Newspaper astrology” is far from representative of the practice of astrology as a whole. It is far removed from what the medieval and renaissance astrologers practiced (traditional astrology). In actuality, astrology was and is a practice based on astronomical observations and mathematical calculations. Though, of course, modern astrologers don’t need to have a telescope to make the necessary observations for their astrological calculations – they can simply load up a computer program that simply makes the calculations for them based on an ephemeris. (An ephemeris is a compilation listing the planets and their movements in the sky). Both astrology and astronomy claim to be “the study of the stars”, and in the past the words were interchangeable. The difference between the two is simply how the information from that study is used. Astrology uses the information to determine the influence the “stars” have on human existence, collectively or individually. Granted astronomy could make that claim, but it concerns itself with more practical and tangible influences, such as “Is that comet going to hit Earth??” (Although, in the abstract, astronomy seeks to determine the beginnings of human existence and to understand how we came to be. In that sense, astronomy can be considered as another cosmology.)

Some of the first astronomical observations made that were considered important in terms of influencing human existence were solar and lunar eclipses and the cycle of the moon. The moon is inherently tied to eclipses in that a solar eclipse occurs during a new moon and a lunar eclipse occurs when there is a full moon. (This does not mean that there is solar eclipse every new moon or that there is a lunar eclipse every full moon. An eclipse properly occurs when the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth line up. A new moon and full moon will occur without the Earth lining up with the Sun and the Moon.) The influence of the new moon, full moon, solar eclipse, and lunar eclipse on human existence have been observed over the millenia such that astrologers can now predict the effects these will have on various individuals or humanity as a whole. Such is the basis for science – observation. Collectively over the past 4000 or more years (the Chinese and Egyptians have been observing the night sky since at least 2000 B.C. or thereabouts), there has been more than just a few observations made on the influence of the “heavens”. The vast amount of information and knowledge gathered and passed down over that many years can be analyzed – “heavenly” cycles and patterns can be noted. (For an interesting history of astrology, read David Ovason’s book The History of the Horoscope. You will not only learn about the history, but you will learn much about the fundamentals of astrology.)

Astrology uses the same mathematical calculations as astronomy in terms of determining movement of the planets. Longitude and latitude degrees are important in determining the precise position of a planet in the sky. (Ah yes, in case you were wondering why “planets” when astrology is the “study of the stars”. To the ancient astrologers, every light they saw in the night sky was considered to be a “star”. However, it appeared that some stars moved while others did not. The stars that moved were “wandering stars”, which is the etymology for the word “planet”. The stars that did not move were termed “fixed stars”, and you will hear that term used in modern astrology.) Precise time was important to astrologers because they would then determine which sign was rising over the horizon and at what degree. (“Sign” in astrology represents one of the twelve portions of the night sky where the beginning of the Aries portion is fixed to the spring equinox – the spring equinox being the exact moment when day and night are of equal length. The signs once were aligned with the constellations, but the constellations are not fixed to the spring equinox. Thus, you may hear some people talk about Aries being later in the year. This is irrelevant to the fact that the Aries portion of the sky is fixed to the spring equinox.) The sign rising over the horizon at the precise moment of someone’s birth is termed “rising sign” and to traditional astrologers was actually more significant than the Sun sign, which is made much of in “newspaper astrology” as discussed above. Such is the precision involved in traditional astrology and modern astrology if studied as seriously as the traditional astrologers.

Is astrology really superstition? Is it a true science? Perhaps it is simply the fact that astrology deals intimately with human existence that we do not wish to consider it science. After all, it is for many still a frightening thought to think that we are really subject to the will of the “heavens”.

We can blame “newspaper astrology” for the malaise that has befallen astrology in the past 100 years or so. Many may be fascinated by it, but yet not take it seriously. Then again, newspaper astrology has peaked the interest of many who would become your modern-day astrologer, taking astrology once again as a serious (scientific?) study, and sometimes eerily predicting events to happen. That being said, there is always something amusing about “newspaper astrology” – just realize that it’s not representative of astrology as a whole.

Cassandrah
Your local amateur astrologer
Brigid’s Flame

Training blog update

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

June 18, 2007

I did a 1.5 mile run. My time was 12 minutes 34 seconds, about an 8 minute mile.

I went to the do jang and helped teach poomse class. I was feeling a little tired and didn’t stay for the regular class. Good thing though because the class was full. It can get really hot and humid in the summer with a full class.

June 21, 2007

Yay! It’s Midsummer.

I decided to go for a run and then to the gym. Nathan decided to come along with me. We ran 1.5 miles. The time was 13 minutes 2 seconds – a little slower than Monday, but we were taking it easy.

COMPLETE LIST OF WEIGHT TRAINING EXERCISES:
Machine/apparatus Exercises:
Pull-ups/chin-ups (this machine works on a counterweight, which means you are lifting your weight minus the weight you set the machine to; thus if I set the machine to 35 lbs, I’m really lifting 70 lbs if I weight 105)
-overhand (palms facing front) – 35 lbs
-underhand (palms facing back) – 30 lbs
-parallel (palms facing towards each other) – 30 lbs
Dips (same apparatus as for the chin-ups) – 25 lbs
Weighted squat machine – 120 lbs
Leg press – 275 lbs
Hamstring flexor/seated leg curls – 105 lbs both legs
Hamstring flexor (lying down on stomach) – 50 lbs both legs, 25 lbs single leg
Hip adductors – 100 lbs
Hip abductors – 100 lbs
Seated row – 67.5 lbs
Seated chest press – 75 lbs
Lateral pull-downs – 75 lbs
Pectoral fly (sometimes done using free weights) – 45 lbs
Reverse pectoral fly (not sure exactly what this is called, it works the rhomboids in between the scapulae/shoulder blades) – 40 lbs
Shoulder fly – 40 lbs
Shoulder lift/press – 45 lbs
Back extensor – 180 lbs
Bicep curls (usually done using free weights now) – 30 lbs, or 15 lbs single
Tricep extensor – 40 lbs (the dips do a good job of working the triceps, plus a special kind of push-up that I learned from taekwondo)
Leg lifts (I do a set of 30 reps. Lift legs out in front, the right, and the left. Doing the leg lifts to the sides helps work out the obliques/side muscles. I hate the new apparatus for this. I can only tolerate the apparatus once in a while because it aggravates my back, even though it’s supposed to be ergonomically designed.)

Free weights:
Two additional shoulder exercises
– lift weight in front using shoulder muscles
– bending at waist lift weight out to the side using muscles along the scapulae (this is the same as the machine that works in reverse of the pectoral fly)
– wrist strengthening – 15 lbs
– dead lift – 30 lb bar
Other exercises:
Pushups (I’m slowly working on single handed pushups – it’s very hard! For now, I’m just holding myself up on one hand for a 10 second count)
Situps
Cycling
Elliptical

Of course, some stretching exercises.

Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Running days

Monday, June 18th, 2007

June 13, 2007

Nathan and I had to go over to my mom’s place. We decided to try running there. We ran most of the way there. We ran from Sherbourne and Bloor to Broadview and Danforth, walked a bit, then started running again from around Carlaw to my mom’s place (near Danforth and Jones). The total distance to my mom’s place from mine is approximately three miles.

June 15, 2007

I decided to run the 5 km route I did last year (actually a total of 5.7 km). Starting from home, I headed to Isabella and Jarvis, then ran north on Mt. Pleasant (Mt. Pleasant ends at Jarvis) to Roxborough Street East. From there it’s a long run heading west. First, it’s west to Yonge and Roxborough Street West, then west to Avenue Road, north a little to Dupont, west on Dupont to Davenport. From Dupont and Davenport it’s a run southeast. Running on Davenport towards Yonge is the intersection where Church meets Yonge. From Yonge and Church, the run continues southeast to Church and Bloor, then south on Church to Isabella and home. I ran most of the route, which is good since it’s been awhile since I ran that distance. I ran all the way up Mt. Pleasant to Roxborough Street East. I walked a little bit on Roxborough Streets East and West, and ran most of Davenport and Church streets. I ran all the way from Church and Bloor to home on Isabella street. My time for the total distance was 42 minutes 13 seconds – not bad considering I walked some of it.

After I got home, rested a little bit and had some water to drink, I headed out again. I was going to meet Nathan at Yonge and Bloor in order to do some routine shopping. I ran the half mile there. I wanted to see how fast I could run a half mile after I did the 5.7 km. If I’m to run 10 km later, I need to be able to move again after 5.7 km. 😉 My time for the half mile run was 4 minutes 33 seconds – 17 seconds slower than my best half mile. But I ran that after a 5.7 km run so it’s not so bad of a time.

It feels good to run again the past few days. I think after doing the run to my mom’s place a few days ago, I figured I could do the 5k run. Though I had to keep reminding myself to break up the route into smaller chunks. It makes it easier mentally because you feel accomplished after finishing one block of the run, then you focus on the next block, and eventually you’re done. I’m thinking I will attempt another 5k run next week. In the meantime, I will try to improve my speed again on the 1 mile and 1.5 mile runs. Tthe 10k run at the do jang for the black belts is on July 6 in the evening. Black belts who aren’t testing are encouraged to run the 10k to support the ones who are testing. The last test this past November, I was a little under the weather and couldn’t run the 10k then, so I’m looking forward to running it this time. :)

Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Exercise days – May 30 to June 11

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

May 30, 2007

I planned to go to the do jang, but I forgot my belt. I was too tired for a hard workout anyway. I decided to walk with Nathan for a bit before he went to tai chi, then I walked home. I ended up walking from Bloor and Spadina to Bathurst, south on Bathurst to Queen, east on Queen to Spadina, north on Spadina to Dundas, and generally walking in a northeasternly direction towards home. I walked through some side streets and through U of T campus until I got to Bay Street, then it was a walk directly east towards home. Unfortunately, I ended up getting blisters breaking in a pair of sandals that I hadn’t worn since last summer. The walk took about two hours give or take about fifteen minutes. It felt good to get the exercise though. Sometimes a long walk helps for building endurance.

June 6, 2007

I went to the do jang. I was late so I took the last twenty minutes of class. It was good enough because I was feeling tired and out of sorts.

June 7, 2007

I went to the do jang again. This time I managed to get there for the 7 p.m. class. I stayed after class and practiced patterns and some hand strikes for a while. I stayed until 9 p.m. for Nathan to pick me up after his tai chi class.

June 8, 2007

I went for a run. Nathan decided to go with me. We ran for about 15 minutes – covered about a mile and a half. Then I got a little bit of a cramp, so we walked a bit until we got to Bloor West, then ran to the track at Central Tech. I did one lap to see how fast I could run it – almost back to my top speed. Unfortunately, I cramped a bit again during the one lap so I ran roughly 300 metres instead of the 400 metres (1 lap).

June 9, 2007

Nathan and I went to see Pirates of the Carribean, then we walked home from the theatre at Richmond and John streets. It was late and the subway was likely closed. There really isn’t any point to taking the Yonge bus since we can walk up Yonge street to home easy enough.

June 11, 2007

Nathan and I went to the gym. It’s been a while since we’ve gone for a good workout so I insisted on going. I really needed to do some squats for my legs. Kicking so much in taekwondo can really aggravate the knee, so weight training is a good complement.

COMPLETE LIST OF WEIGHT TRAINING EXERCISES:
Machine/apparatus Exercises:
Pull-ups/chin-ups (this machine works on a counterweight, which means you are lifting your weight minus the weight you set the machine to; thus if I set the machine to 35 lbs, I’m really lifting 70 lbs if I weight 105)
-overhand (palms facing front) – 35 lbs
-underhand (palms facing back) – 30 lbs
-parallel (palms facing towards each other) – 30 lbs
Dips (same apparatus as for the chin-ups) – 25 lbs
Weighted squat machine – 120 lbs
Leg press – 275 lbs
Hamstring flexor/seated leg curls – 105 lbs both legs
Hamstring flexor (lying down on stomach) – 50 lbs both legs, 20 lbs single leg (this machine was broken again, the pin comes out of the bar that needs to be lifted – not a good thing)
Hip adductors – 100 lbs
Hip abductors – 100 lbs
Seated row – 65 lbs
Seated chest press – 75 lbs
Lateral pull-downs – 75 lbs
Pectoral fly (sometimes done using free weights) – 45 lbs
Reverse pectoral fly (not sure exactly what this is called, it works the rhomboids in between the scapulae/shoulder blades) – 35 lbs
Shoulder fly – 40 lbs
Shoulder lift/press – 45 lbs
Back extensor – 180 lbs
Bicep curls (usually done using free weights now) – 30 lbs, or 15 lbs single
Tricep extensor – 40 lbs (the dips do a good job of working the triceps, plus a special kind of push-up that I learned from taekwondo)
Leg lifts (I do a set of 30 reps. Lift legs out in front, the right, and the left. Doing the leg lifts to the sides helps work out the obliques/side muscles. I hate the new apparatus for this. I can only tolerate the apparatus once in a while because it aggravates my back, even though it’s supposed to be ergonomically designed.)

Free weights:
Two additional shoulder exercises
– lift weight in front using shoulder muscles
– bending at waist lift weight out to the side using muscles along the scapulae (this is the same as the machine that works in reverse of the pectoral fly)
– wrist strengthening – 15 lbs
– dead lift – 30 lb bar
Other exercises:
Pushups (I’m slowly working on single handed pushups – it’s very hard! For now, I’m just holding myself up on one hand for a 10 second count)
Situps
Cycling
Elliptical

TTWG moon ritual

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

May 31st was a full moon. I ended up doing a ritual for TTWG. Actually it was supposed to be a combined ritual with my group.

It was fun to do a full moon ritual. I did a ritual to Hekate and Hermes. The ritual was about magic since it was a blue moon. A full moon is considered powerful for magic. A blue moon is the second full moon in a month, happens about every 2.5 years, and is thus more powerful than an ordinary full moon. The ritual was fairly simple. Some brief words about magic, and then we spent time absorbing the power of the blue moon.

Unfortunately, it rained earlier that day so the ground was wet and damp and there were lots of mosquitoes. I got uncomfortably bit on my hand and on my legs (where the repellent rinsed off when I was cleaning up afterwards – have to be more careful with applying the repellent; otherwise it works).

Overall, it was fun to do a ritual for a small group. There were five of us in total, and I was happy to do a public ritual – good practice for me.

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame