Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Airport Duty

There wasn't much sleep to be had since the last two days have been end-of-summer partying and outing. There's a cracking in my voice as a result of all the singing last night. Again, I woke up early to take Melissa to the Dane County Airport. One thing I'll remember about this day was how beautiful the morning was. The air was light and the early fatigue was set aside for later.

I drove downtown and picked up Melissa and her excessively large luggage. One quick stop at the FedEx location to ship a few packages and she was on her way home.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Birthdays and Goodbyes

Tuesday morning took off with a rather rough start. Getting older means the body is not as prone to a quick recovery--can't keep up with the Jones anymore. The Wingsday partying from the night prior tipped toward the excessive but alas, I had to get up early to be my sister's consult at court. It's nothing major of course, just a traffic violation that we plan to fight.

On the way into court Diana notices her friend and teammate, Stephanie, waiting in line with her mom. It was beginning to turn into a regular East High reunion for traffic deviants. As we sat there awaiting our turn, my wandering eye catches a familiar face out on the side. My tan complexion nearly turned white as I saw Laura walk into the court. I hadn't spoken to her for quite some time and it quickly grew awkward. Due to the nature of being quiet in the court, she motions me to call her before leaving. Of course she does this a the distance so everyone turns and looks at me. Yikes.

When I returned from the downtown area, I took a good nap before tonight's festivities. Pardeeville Amber had invited me out for her birthday where she'll start off at the Nitty Gritty for dinner. I went and presented my gifts before meeting her friends and roommates. At the corner of the bar, I noticed a couple of Scuba and regular Wingsday aficionados; Mik, Matt, and Steirs. We get a few drinks and chat before being shuffled into the dining room for the birthday meal. At the end of dinner, we toast as customary and on that very note I buy Amber a shot called the muff diver. It's basically a shot covered in whip cream which she had to take with only her mouth as a utensil. I was presented this for the very first time on my own birthday from the Great White, Mr. Jaws Kramer.

Though the night would not end here, Amber's crew moved on to the next bar while I waited around for Melissa and friends to arrive at the Gritty. It's Melissa's last day in Madison before flying home to Boston and I also agreed to hang out with her. I enjoyed the time waiting around with Sarah and Jenica at the bar as Matt works his bartending shift. When Melissa finally came by, we took down a round of shots as David, Julie, Kelly, Kira, and Jeff had arrived on the scene. Kelly had a gift for me and to my surprise, it was a thick stack of Charlie Toy business cards. They're for my own personal use as I take up the position of filling in for the eldest Toy sibling. With Alice in school, that means all four Toys can make trouble in the Mad City.

Before ultimately making our way to the Karaoke Kid, we make a stop at Brother's for a drink. At the Kid, I sing Amber a birthday song as I typically do for most birthdays. I also sing one for Melissa as for the short time I've known her is at its end. When the night was all but over and most of the crew had gone home, Melissa requests of me to end the night elsewhere than Karaoke Kid. I thought it might be nice to swing by the Vintage Bar for her last night in Madison. The scene is very indicative of the student bar element and not a bad place to finish the night out.

Amber's Birthday '05

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Amber's Birthday '05

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wingsday '05 Farewell Summer

As the Summer winds down, the days are growing more beautiful. The air has that hint of Fall's cool touch and the clear sky radiates a great brilliance. By early evening, I darted off to the Natatorium to find myself and Rick to be the only ones at Kendo practice. Taking things easy, we worked mainly on striking and went over a long overdue practice of kata. After practice, I stopped by Kiyota Sensei's house to install a backup system for his computer. This should be an ample solution to his recurring Microsoft Word problems.

Today, being the last Monday before the official start of the school year, I called for a Farewell to Summer Wingsday. I was the first to arrive at Lucky's Bar and then met up with Stephanie, her brother Dave, and Meagan. At the bar, another Hoofer Scuba member, Scott joined us and we took a large table in the back. Hlavenka, a Green Teamer whom we haven't seen in a while, stopped by and a pre-wings order was placed. As more and more people started to drop in, we had to expand the tables to get space for Chen, Kristin, Steirs, Mik, Amber, Brock, David, Jenica, and Melissa. It was just great to socialize and talk about the great summer that's now reduced to a recent memory.

The highlight of the night must've been the communal boob grabbing of one another. Just think about it, someday some historian will look back at these pictures and try to research the ritual. By night's end, a grand total of 151 chicken wings were consumed.

Goodbye Summer!

Wingsday '05 Farewell Summer
Chart | Gallery

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Wingsday '05 Farewell Summer

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Weekly Horoscope: 08-28-2005

Life at home is looking great this week, Fei, with some pleasant events to look forward to. Venus in Libra makes this the perfect time to entertain or to think up new ways to beautify your home. Perhaps a bit of Feng Shui would enhance the energies and create harmony for your whole life at the same time. On Tuesday, Venus trines Neptune, which may enhance your outlook on issues associated with home, property, and material matters. A spiritual perspective is available if you want to look into this side of things. On the same day Mercury trines Pluto, which brings a more intense focus to conversations about money and work. If you need to change any aspect of your current situation this would be the day to do so. The Sun in Virgo opposes Uranus on Wednesday, so expect a few messages from out of the blue, which may have a special surprise in store for you. Legal issues or contracts that are being discussed may change, but the change may well work in your favor. Venus conjuncts Jupiter on Thursday so if you plan to hold a big party at home this would be the day to do so. Mercury moves into Virgo on Sunday, which will encourage you to look at the facts.

The Home Depot Experience

On a Saturday morning in late summer, Brent had come by the house to teach me how to install a new muffler on the Honda Accord. I hadn't slept well in the last few days so the early work came for me at a slow pace. Once the old rusted muffler was off the car, it soon became clear that we needed to buy new bolts to replace the corroded ones.

We got in the car and went in the direction of the mall. They didn't have the pieces we needed at Menards so we left quickly. Both of us had to work later in the day and time was a sudden luxury. Before leaving, however, I caught a glimpse of a Halloween section that Menards was preparing for the upcoming Fall season. My thoughts dwelled on how fast time flies. Summer's all but over and it's time again for life to enter a new cycle.

In our haste, we went across the street to the Home Depot. As a product of a national chain of home improvement stores, the place was rather well organized and they carried what we needed. There was a little confusion though about how one pays for the nuts and bolts we picked out. Though the prices were clearly labeled in the little bins, do we simply report the correct price or will they have a particular scheme? We soon found out at the register.

As Brent was saying, at Farm and Fleet they mark all their hardwares by color codes and you pay by the pound. This is the local business mentality at work and I'm sure it runs efficiently. At Home Depot, we walk up to one of the many registers. Betsy, a blond hottie, greets you with a welcome smile. You'd expect a cute girl like her to work other jobs but she's hanging in there with the guys. She tries to ring us in but here lies the kinks of a system probably developed by the big corporate mentality.

We notice that she's trying to input these small printed codes from each nut and bolt. With the scant surface area, the pricing code is not complete and she needs to look up the information. She calls on the overhead line for hardwares even though the bins we had picked out our wares from was only fifteen yards away. We could have easily just gone back and brought the entire bin but she assures us that it's not necessary. Brent interjects and tells her right out what's the cost. We spend another five minutes looking at a two inch thick manual with pricing codes before she receives approval to just manually pick a code that matched our price. Ten minutes later and $1.77 rung up, we pay and make our way home. I wish I could've just paid her the $2.00 and bypass the time wasted.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 2

The Home Depot

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Beyond Loyalty

It's getting colder already, I can feel it in my bones. Today was mostly cloudy with moments of sunlight just slipping through. I slept in pretty late. I didn't accomplish much so I'll have to see about what I can still get done in what's left of the day.

Tonight was Diana's first volleyball game of the season so Dad and I dropped by East High to cheer her on. She plays varsity ball with some of her friends I recognize from all their years of growing up together. After losing the first two games, the East Purgolders make a comeback to win the last three and thus taking the big win. Though there were moments of excitement in the game, I felt a bit more of nostalgia for being back in my old school.

Heading downtown I stopped in at the house of Kiyota Sensei. This is already my second day back of helping him with his computer troubles. You see, he had lost one of his chapters in his book-in-progress and I was trying to find a way to recover it. After a few tries I was finally able to get it back. I'm going to come up with a solution for him so that weekly backups are made to ensure that he doesn't lose anything else.

Upon leaving, he thanks me of course and goes into the kitchen to give me a bag of cucumbers and plump tomatoes freshly picked from his garden. Then he reaches for a book from his table and hands me a copy of Beyond Loyalty: the Story of a Kibei. He humbly says it's nothing special but I know it is the personal favorite of all his writings.
Inside the cover is dedicated:

August 23, 2005

For my friend,
Fei Xiao

With abiding respect,
Minoru Kiyota

Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ethnic Day

I felt very rested upon returing home on Sunday so I called up a few people about an afternoon sail. I saw that Melissa had called me earlier to let me know about this Ethnic Day event down by Meriter Hospital. Since it was past lunch time anyways, I decided to meet her there for a bite. When I got there, the UW Break Dance Club was on stage and busting out to some tunes. Wild.

I wasn't there long until David met me there on foot. We had lunch from the Jamerica stand where I ran into an old family friend. The owner of the Jamaican establishment, Martin, was my next door neighbor when I was a child. I remember playing with his nephew when we were young and getting into trouble. Even though we were troublemakers, Martin had always been nice to us and gave us fresh picked apples from his trees in the backyard. Life was much simpler then.

After lunch, I met up with the rest of the group down by the lake. Matt and Adriana were there waiting as we pulled up. Brock on the other hand was out on the water helping Caitlin get her board heavy rating. With some difficulty getting in and the wind dying down to a green flag, she unfortunately did not get the rating. The day would not end sour. On the contrary, it turned out to be an excellent day of fun on the lake.

Matt had brought a case of Smirnoff Raspberry drinks and Mike's Hard Lemonade. Let me say, it didn't last long on this afternoon sail. With medium-heavy winds on a fairly chopping surface, we took the Badger Sloop from one end of the lake to the other in no time. With so much people in the boat, we had to think about how to distribute the weight around as we hiked out while keeling. Sadly, this gave Adriana quite the scare so we throttled it back. Nonetheless, we took a course from Madison's Northside to just out past Picnic Point. When we put the boat in safety position I jumped in the water for a swim. Due to the choppiness in the water and still gusty winds, the boat started getting away from me at a fairly fast rate. There was just no way I could swim that fast so Brock took the helm and came about on a man overboard rescue.

We returned to pier for a short break and dropped off Matt, Adriana, David, and Melissa, however, we picked up Caitlin's twin sister Kalika before heading back out. Just the four of us, the boat felt so much lighter and we sailed out on great speeds. As we tried safety position again, Brock jumps out this time to find himself with no life jacket and his cell phone in his pocket. As he was treading water with his cell phone held high, it was important that we throw him out a life jacket and then I took the Sloop into a man overboard rescue maneuver, picking up the tired Brock.

With the sun slowly setting in the West, we took a course home downwind. Although I have been witness to many beautiful summer sunsets, tonight's descent had to rank up with some of the best and most memorable. After putting our boat away and unrigging, the four of us went out for some Japanese dinner at Ginza of Tokyo. So far so good. I hope the rest of the week can keep up with this pace.

Ethnic Day

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Ethnic Day

"The end is the beginning of all things, suppressed and hidden, awaiting to be released through the rhythm of pain and pleasure."
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Weekly Horoscope: 08-21-2005

The movement of the Sun into Virgo on Monday gives more focus to the way you communicate and use your mind, Fei. You will probably find that details become important, and that if you have been ignoring them, you cannot afford to do so any longer. You will be brought to attention and will have to catch up so that your records are all up to date. Make a start before anyone notices and you should be OK. But the truth is that everyone is going to be probing into the minutiae more deeply - so there is really no escape. Mercury continues to move through Leo, which is helping you to get in touch with any necessary people regarding your personal financial affairs. Look into new schemes for saving or spending, change your bank account or find ways to make your money work harder for you. It hasn't been easy though, as there have been a number of upsets and some confusion to endure. The end of this week may bring more of the same, but hopefully this is the last time it will occur. Mercury, Neptune and Mars all aspect each other, which may mean you feel powerless to be heard. Don't sign any new agreements quite yet, just go with the flow and see what transpires.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wingsday '05 Moving Out

This time of the year is typically a crazy time for students on campus to move from one residence to another. It actually feels good not having to go through it for myself this time around. As a break from all the hectic moving about, I suggested that we should host a Wingsday to get away from it all.

I went to Lucky's Bar ahead of everyone else. Just as typical, I was running late and Steph had arrived first. Because of prior arrangements, she had to eat no later than 10p so we went ahead and put in for our pre-wings. As our order came to the table, Steirs had come through the door. Shortly after, Chen and Kristin walked in and helped us clear up. When David and Julie stopped by, we had to move to the back room for more table space.

One by one, more wings were ordered and were soon devoured. A few of Chen and Kristin's friends came by to see what Wingsday was all about and it was enjoyable to add to our wrecking crew. Throughout the night's conversations, we covered ground on what it's like to be good neighbors as well as a business plan for a company Julie was thinking up. Though I won't mention the specifics, I will say that it possibly involves a buffet and an all you can With the beer flowing well, Steph had to stop drinking so Steirs became her drinking surrogate. He moaned and complained about receiving the title of surrogate so we came to nickname him "Pissy Surrogate".

Later in the night, as half the crew had left for home, James had finally stopped in after work to cap off a wing centennial. We were not done yet as Brock and Matt had come in by followed by Brent. At the end of the night, 120 wings were consumed putting us in record numbers. As for Jessica, our faithful Lucky's server, it was her last night of work there and she joined us for pictures. Even Christina dropped by in her pajamas just to say hi.

Although it wasn't a wild a Wingsday as past sessions, it had served its purpose of a break from moving. It didn't hurt to fill our bellies with wings and beer. Ah, a good night indeed.

Wingsday '05 Moving Out
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Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Wingsday '05 Moving Out

New Wingsday Crew Callsigns

"Jaws" Kramer, the Great White
Julie Hand Job
the Pissy Surrogate Steirs

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ice Cream at Dawn

Brent had stopped over last night to teach me a thing a two about cars. After working hours upon hours of taking things apart and putting them back together, I went to bed tired.

This morning came and I stepped outside to see the thin trace of sun slowly slide up on the horizon. I had this craving for mint mocha ice cream and so I fetched myself a scoop on a waffle cone. I sat there and just enjoyed my ice cream. Simple.

Activity: 1 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 2

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Weekly Horoscope: 08-14-2005

Mercury turns direct in the personal financial zone of your chart, Fei, which is great news as it means that your cash should begin to flow, especially if it has been held up lately. Payments will no longer be delayed and you can sign contracts, make purchases and begin new schemes knowing that everything should be OK. Venus moves into Libra and joins Jupiter in your home and family zone. This makes for a warm and wonderful atmosphere if you want to entertain guests or hold a party. This also a good influence for redecorating or beautifying your home. Jupiter trines Neptune on Wednesday, so your may find yourself thinking some very big thoughts about what is possible. Dreams of faraway places and of living in a different environment will bring out your escapist tendencies. But you do need to keep your feet on the ground. There is a Full Moon in the joint financial zone of your chart, which is going to put you in a more emotional mood than usual. Don't make any snap decisions out of the blue, as you will probably be reacting to events rather than truly inspired to do the right thing. Leave big purchases for a few days to make sure that you do really want the item.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Twilight a la Carte

The week was spent in periods of lounging around the house and taking things easy. There's no fun in recovering from allergies. I did not go out for any sailing nor a day of Kendo practice. On the upside, I got to hang out with my dad all week helping to expand the deck in the yard to accommodate for another level. In all, my voice is a tad nasal sounding but I'm generally feeling energized.

I went through the paces of a light workout and afterwards met up with Stephanie for dinner at the Ocean Grill. Having never been there before I felt the place a bit upscale but given its location on the Capitol Square the propensity for such restaurants justified the experience. Our dining scene opened with a mini oyster bar sampling from opposite coastlines and a bottle of wine that I chose by name. Not intending to fool anyone my wine choice was based merely on its namesake and not complementary by any means. Dinner was simply superb since this time there was no chance of missing out on the fine selection of Surf and Turf. Somehow we find room for a divine dessert to cap the dinner.

After dinner Steph suggests swinging by the Crave Lounge on nearby State Street. This bar was an excellent place to lounge around, chat and enjoy the wide selection of martini's. Upon a surprise encounter our server turned out to be the newly appointed HSC Vice-Commodore Michelle who was one of my first instructors in the club. We had a few drinks here but chose not stay long. The night was going great and we dare not content ourselves to just sit around drinking it all away.

A short drive down the road took us to Steph's place to pick up a few blankets, her brother Justin, some drinks and each of us a pair of jeans, though my pair were not my own. The idea was to get outside some place to view what was left of the lingering Perseid Meteor Shower. On the way toward the UW Hospital a bit of confusion curtailed the shortened drive and derailed my driving onto the sidewalk. As you might imagine, this was rather an ugly scene and I did my best to get out of the predicament.

With no easy path in front of us I parked the car in the lot at the Kronshage lake shore dorms. What lay ahead was a mile-long trek to Picnic Point. En route I find a large red cart used by dorm dwellers for moving bins and larger items. My first inclination was to just dump the blankets and push the cart toward our destination. However, sudden drunken moments entered my mine and I pick up my equally drunken companion Stephanie and load her in the cart as well. In the spirit of my blog the true way to describe this odd night, the pushing of the cart and her passenger is to say that it was faithfully Powered by Fei.

The headway I made in pushing the cart through the stillness of the lake shore path came with a bantam of efforts. The noise of the cart, as I am now quite sure, must have disturbed all sorts of creatures that wandered through the night. At the gates which guard the entrance to the park I lead us in the wrong direction and only with the help of Justin, we push the cart through a stretch of half-foot thick grass until finally reaching a rocky road which led into the pitch-dark forest. I was aware of a sandy beach area ahead on the tip of Picnic Point and it would make due as a good clearing for star gazing.

While still pushing the cart on the dirt path a light came whizzing by. It was a biker and he had called out to us to step aside as a faint music played from his perched ride. As it was completely dark I could not make out any of his facial features. Only a short while later did we find out that it was James riding out to meet us. On the beach I put out the blankets and we dump Steph out of the cart. Now there was four of us and we lay there on the ground with our eyes looking up to the heavens.

Though the sky was sparingly cloudy, a slow moving wind tore rifts in the upper atmosphere and exposed a star-lit sky. I saw a few shooting stars with one that had flared up in the distance, a roaring fireball tearing the darkness of night. There wasn't much thought involved as our small isolation from the world gave way to a twilight skinny dip in the warm lake. Dear God, foolish beings were we to brave our souls to such profoundness.

Somewhere between the late night swim, the summer interstellar activity and James Kramer's naked dancing silhouette, the four of us layered the blankets in a way to warm our bodies from the succeeding cold. Before shutting my eyes I take a moment to capture it all in. There was no pretense to burden expectations. There was no worry in which the outside world could judge us. The feeling was most like being lost in the twilight in the company of endearing friends. That's it! In no effort to think about the trivial we lose ourselves to the night.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Ocean Grill

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wingsday '05 A New Beginning

Despite still being a little on the sick side, I went into work today to meet our new Team Lead, Tamara. She comes to us from the IT Technical Servies department for UW Athletics. What's odd is that I had met her once before at SIGUCCS, an IT Services Conference in Providence. I remember this because she was one of three University of Wisconsin attendees there, myself included. I also remember at the end of the conference was a parting ball/gala and she had asked me for a dance. Now it's a few years later and she's the Green Team Lead.

I'm glad I didn't make a bad impression. :-)

Anyways, after work I dropped by Lucky's Bar to meet Steph for a small gathering for Wingsday. I didn't expect anything big following the Fantastic 4000 Wings but hey!, wings are wings. There were about six of us and I'm terrible and have already forgotten names, however, both Chen and Kristin have now earned their nicknames.

Chen "Neck Piece"
Kristin "Skim Milk"

Wingsday '05
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Activity: 2 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Weekly Horoscope: 08-07-2005

Your personal finances continue to be under scrutiny this week, Fei, with Mercury, the Sun and Saturn in Leo. Mercury is still retrograde until August 16 so don't sign anything of major importance before this date. There is still plenty of time to review your financial situation and make the best use of your resources that you can. On Monday, when the Sun opposes Neptune, hang on to your credit cards and purse and don't let them slip out of your grasp. Take more care than usual when making any new purchases, especially over the Internet. Venus squares Pluto on Wednesday, and this is going to bring about a few obsessive thoughts; such obsessions could alter a situation quite dramatically if you can't let go and flow with it all. Take it easy. There is more to come as Mercury squares Mars on Saturday, which may create an atmosphere that is ripe for a loud discussion. Things could get explosive, especially if you are trying to discuss money and career issues. Best if you can have the conversation on another day when it might proceed with more calm. Sunday brings a chance to take some definite action and turn over a new leaf - with powerful energies prompting you to do just this.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Last Day

By Wednesday morning, the predicted heavy winds finally came into Madison. Sadly I had class until late afternoon so I sat in the classroom anxiously awaiting its end. When I got out to the lake, the winds were starting to come down a bit but not before I had jumped on a board and flew out. I came by Brock on my way out past the mooring field and he looked tired. Apparently, he had spent hours on the lake and had at one point try to signal Harvey (the Rescue Boat) to come rescue him. Unfortunately, they must've missed him and he eventually sailed back to Hoofers on his own.

As I put my sail and board away I received a call from Mark to remind me that the UW Kendo Club was to take Kiyota Sensei out for dinner at Imperial Garden. It's becoming fairly standard to take Sensei out on the last day of Kendo class so that we can try to get some of his students to join the club.

Once I got home from dinner, I spent the night studying for the final in my summer class. As I went through the stack of notes and papers, many thoughts came racing through my head. I took a moment to come to a realization that in the last 4 days, I've had less than 3 hours of sleep a night. There was my paper due on Monday and I've been studying nightly. I'm pretty sure this is vital to why I'm still feeling sick. In all honesty, it probably wasn't even the studying that was keeping me up. Throughout the week of Commodore's Cup, it was all fun and games. It's already the week following and the thing I felt missing that week has now come to the top. I feel that thing missing from my life is what's making me weak. I just can't seem to recover.

After a long night of studying, I biked over to College Library to meet with my study group. I am very thankful for the group study time as I finally pieced all the things together. I went into the final exam not feeling too hot but it turned out to be not as hard as I thought it'd be. The really tough part was the topic of Hinduism and all the Gods and beliefs that are inherent in the system.

I left the exam and headed over to the Natatorium where I changed into my hakama gi. At last night's dinner, Mark had asked me to come and help out in the class tournament that they were holding on the last day. I napped on the wood floor right up until people started showing up and then I warmed up with the group. My primary role was to demonstrate the proper ettiquette for entering a match as well as fight one round with Ellie.

I'll say this about the week, it was all too exhausting. I have to think about taking it easy this coming week and rest up.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Blurry Kendo

You and Me by Lifehouse

What day is it? And in what month?
This clock never seemed so alive
I can't keep up and I can't back down
I've been losing so much time

Cause it's you and me and all of the people with nothing to do
Nothing to lose
And it's you and me and all of the people
And I don't know why, I can't keep my eyes off of you

All of the things that I want to say just aren't coming out right
I'm tripping on words
You've got my head spinning
I don't know where to go from here

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Casual Afternoon Sail

After class Tuesday, I went down to the boathouse and saw that it just wasn't one of those windsurfing days. Light winds from the Southwest and I'm still trying to recover from my cold. I casually walked down to State Street to grab some lunch at the Mediterranean Cafe.

I messaged Steph to see if she was up for a little sailing. She agreed and said that Sita would also like to come along. When I finished my lunch, I signed out for a Badger Sloop as Brock was coming in from a Tech Plus testout. Since he was interested in getting his Sloop rating by Friday, I thought it would be good to take him out and show him a thing or two.

When I finally got around to taking out the sails, I ran into Amber and Mik on the way out. Amber had already signed up for a Tech lesson with Vice-Commodore Jessica or otherwise she would've come out with us. Then Mik and his friend were about to take a boat out as well so instead we decide to combine the two groups and take turns to skipper.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

A Casual Afternoon Sail

Monday, August 01, 2005

Musashi's Lesson in Zen

My mother has a saying that goes something like the body will let the owner know when it's not well. My body finally caught up with the pace I had taken it all week and I'm beginning to feel rather sick. I woke up early to meet with Kiyota Sensei to help him with his computer woes. Despite the lack of energy in me, my enthusiasm to spend any time I can get with this great man overcame any realm of pain.

It didn't take much to get him going again so that he could continue writing his book. Mainly, he needed the ability to use character accents and regain his access to email. At the end of the session, he thanked me and offered some home grown lettuce from his garden. I graciously accepted and offered my services again at anytime in the future. This is the loyalty that I have for my Sensei and there's a lot of respect between the teacher and student.

When I returned home, I spent most of the day immobile and tried my best to rest the body. I turned off the phone, watched a little television, but mostly took the day with ease. In my personal time, I recalled a lesson I learned in an Art History class regarding the great samurai Miyamoto Musashi.

Now one may ask what a deadly killer has to do with Art History? Miyamoto Musashi boasted of over 60 duels in his lifetime and was never once defeated. He used his experiences to devout his life to the study of swordsmanship and ultimately Zen Buddhism. As a warrior monk, he was also an excellent student of calligraphy and painting.

The very same hands which were used to kill his enemies had produced some of the finest sumi-e or ink paintings. He painted in a powerful and direct style with an amazing economy of strokes. He is particularly remembered for his paintings of birds, such as Koboku meikakuzu or “Shrike Perched in a Dead Tree”.

This swiftly brushed image of a shrike balanced on a branch above a caterpillar that is crawling upward, presumably to its doom is a graphic masterpiece. The tension in the body of the bird can almost be felt as it balances before striking, and every flick of the brush bespeakes alertness. Miyamoto Musashi was a figure who vividly expressed the relation between culture and the samurai ethos, remaining a legend long after his death.

In particular, this bird painting was teaching a fundamental Zen lesson. The perched bird is looking out in the distance seeking its prey unaware that just below is assessible food. The caterpillar is making his way up to a sure death and becoming the bird's next meal. While there's certainly many lessons that can be learned, the most common is one which afflicts a lot of us still today. Especially so in the hustle and bustle of modern life and staying always one step ahead. In our endeavors to getting everything we want, we miss the closest things to us entirely.

Activity: 1 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 2

Miyamoto Musashi: the Shrike