Thursday, September 29, 2005

Studying the Admonitions Scroll

Last night at Kendo practice I filled out all the necessary forms for me to test in November for shodan. It's been a long journey getting here. I've gone through a lot of ups and downs but I've stuck with it and now in a year's time, I'm preparing for the next step.

I am knee deep in school work. Help! :-(

In class we've been looking at the development of character portraits in Chinese art. In looking at the Admonitions Scroll attributed to the artist Gu Kaizi, I assisted Prof. Murray in creating a simple comparisons website for looking at later versions for differences and style development.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 2

The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies

The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies
Song Dynasty version
artist: unknown
location: Palace Museum Beijing

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My Sister's Birthday

This Tuesday is Diana's big 18th birthday. I guess in society's terms she's officially an adult. As her big brother I am particularly proud of how she turned out. Diana is a responsible and caring person, and although with a bit of innocent ignorance she's wise beyond her years.

My Tuesdays are almost nearly busy as Thursdays with the exception of having to work all night. I came home to rest awhile until the rest of the family returned home. I drove mom and dad to Madison East High to watch Diana's Varsity Volleyball game against Janesville. Sadly, East lost despite my sister leading the team in kills. It stands to show that one individual cannot win the game.

After leaving East I drove my family downtown to have a birthday dinner at the Nitty Gritty. Diana got her birthday mug and her friends stopped by to wish her the best. Even her volleyball coach came by. When it came time to sing the birthday song, some members of the UW Basketball team (friends of the volleyball coach) joined in to usher in Diana's 18th birthday.

Diana, you'll always be my little sister. I hope that you had a great birthday and I'm sure you already know that I wish you the best!

Happy Birthday sis!

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Happy Birthday Diana '05

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dinner Conversation

My Thursdays are the busiest days of the week. I usually start the day rushing out the door to make early class where I spend all morning and afternoon in the below ground classrooms of the Chazen Art Museum.

Today, I spent my lunchtime finishing a paper prior to class and it left me hungry. I've got about an hour from the end of class before I have to run to work so in my downtime I relax for the first time all day. Checking my voicemail I see that Kourtney had wanted to come to dinner with me tonight. I had invited her out to meet Kiyota Sensei because all three of us share a common interest in the study of Buddhism. Now all that's left is to finalize arrangements to get a few hours covered at work.

Tyler, a friend of Brock's, from Gold Team had agreed to cover for me in exchange for working his early Saturday morning shift. How could I refuse?

As usual we have dinner at Ginza of Tokyo on Madison's west side. Since I was just getting off work, the Club had ordered some sushi appetizers prior to my arrival. The fried shrimp heads were actually a delightful treat. There was one piece in particular, unagi (sea urchin), that Sensei pointed out to me. He said "Fei, you know it's 100% cholestrol *in a joking tone* but for a young guy like you, it's OK!" I accept...go for broke!

Dinner was great and I got to converse with some of the new club members. I had finished Sensei's autobiography (Beyond Loyalty) so I asked him a few questions about the girl Nancy (that he wrote about yet left out what happened to her). Nancy was a girl whom he had a special connection with through the toughest years of his young adult life. They had spent time together in the Japanese internment camps. As they left their imprisonment, they spent one night on a train saying their goodbyes until meeting again years later at Berkley. He left her again when he departed for the Korean War and that was where the book left off. Sensei had told me that if you let a person go for so long, eventually you lose touch. Seemingly, he left her story vague. I felt a sadness in his voice and quickly realized that I should not have brought up the subject. Changing the tone of the conversation we talk about Kendo and the Buddhist thought. Dinner is no place for sad stories but rather a time to enjoy great food and cheerful things.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Monday, September 12, 2005

Power Drain

With the school year in full swing, I've got less and less time to jot down my thoughts. Ironically, Powered by Fei is running low on power. Time to recharge....

After a short day of class, I strolled down to the Union for a little lunch. The Hoofers Boathouse is closed now on both Mondays and Tuesdays so I won't be getting out on the water at the beginning of the week, but it's not like I've got all the time in the world anyways. Summer's carefree has been replaced by a methodic schedule of school, work, and Kendo. I've barely been able to keep up.

With this new school year, several new students have signed up for our UW Kendo Club. Like me, a few come from other martial arts backgrounds. In them, I see my own progressions in the Art of the Sword. I remember coming in swinging like there's no tomorrow. Now it's my turn to help out these new guys get a firm footing and proper training. There's also talk that I might be testing for my shodan (blackbelt) in early November.

Once I showered up I drove over to the Nitty Gritty for a stop visit and to say Happy Birthday to Jenica's friend and roommate, Sarah. Of course, most all the Toy Kids came and we got to hang out a bit before my departure. For me it's home, some reading for class, and hopefully there's time for sleep before tomorrow comes around.

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Sarah's Birthday '05

Sensei and Sensibility

Sunday afternoon was spent helping Kiyota Sensei with more computer work. After our session, he presented me with a selection of art books from his personal collection. It was quite an honor and I thanked him profusely. He basically told me that he didn't have any need for them anymore because he's about to go away. I knew very well what he was referring to but I know he can't leave us so soon. There is so much more we have to learn from him. Out of our conversation, he tells me to get my nidan (Second Degree Blackbelt) as soon as I can and he will give me ten sets of bogu (Kendo armor) so that I might teach Kendo. I thank him again for his faith in me and I know it's one of those things in the world which I cannot let him down.

When I left Sensei's house, I felt a good gust of wind brewing that directed me toward the lake. Because of the Ironman Triathlon in Madison, it was rather hard to drive around downtown. I picked up Brock from his outing at Eagle Heights and we set out for some windsurfing. Out on the water, we catch a couple good rides before the wind started dying. For Brock, who had gone out too far, it was a chore to get back on low winds and in fact, the last stretch from the mooring field to the pier was accomplished on an exhausting swim back. It was of little annoyance though because the trailing end of summer's sunset is worth any price.

After a few good hours of riding the wind, we found ourselves pretty hungry. A short trip to the Echo Tap & Grill made way for a real Wisconsin meal of brat and hamburger, the ingredients of the Echo Burger. When our meal came, we were informed that the Green Bay Packers had taken a beating and lost the season opener. Even in the face of the bad news, we sit and enjoy our burgers. And in such cascading matters, I felt today my faith in Sensei and the very same he had for me. In return, I hope that Brock can look up to me as a teacher too and that I'd happily teach him all the things I've learned. Teacher to Student, brother to brother, friend to friend. These values are quite inherent in the concept of filial piety (Xiao).

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Windy Day

Wake me up when September Ends by Green Day

Summer has come and passed,
the innocent can never last.
Wake me up when September ends.

Like my father's come to pass,
seven years has gone so fast.
Wake me up when September ends.

Here comes the rain again,
falling from the stars.
Drenched in my pain again,
becoming who we are.

As my memory rests,
but never forgets what I lost.
Wake me up when September ends.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Weekly Horoscope: 09-11-2005

You are going to get two very different reactions to the ideas you put out this week, Fei. One will be positive and heartening, and the other more controlling and manipulative. Both the Sun and Mercury are traveling through your ideas zone, and this is encouraging you to voice your thoughts and get as many people interested in your schemes as possible. You will be encouraged by the response on Tuesday when the Sun trines Mars and people warm to you and give you plenty of encouragement. On Wednesday you won't feel so hopeful as someone brings up an objection that may be very difficult to overcome. Thursday and Friday revolve around a similar pattern, swooping you high in the air and then letting you fall again. Take it all with a pinch of salt and don't try to fight back. Within a few days things will have calmed down and the very people who were against you will be back with a better offer. The Full Moon in Pisces on Saturday is going to bring you some feedback concerning a recent foray into a whole new area. You are about to discover whether it is really your cup of tea or not. But it will all be valuable experience nevertheless.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Friday night played host to a grand public Hoofer Sailing Social inviting everyone and their dog for a cookout on the lake front. The meal they were serving was pretty good comprising of beer soaked brats and spicy marinated chicken breasts. I of course recognize numerous sailing regulars but made it a point to talk to some of the newbies that had just signed up. I met Brock down there as he came in on a windsail. In the course of enjoying our meals over ample conversation, both of us conclude that the lake is getting cold and it's really our last chance to get out windsurfing before the season is over.

When Brock left the lake, my old friend Kristie surprised me by dropping in. She had just come into Wisconsin from Colorado to visit her sister. I took her out to one of the piers and we sat out under the stars. It was a pleasant night to chat and catch up on personal things. We remind ourselves of the years past and where things are going for us, friends, family and all. Sometimes growing up means to move on. I guess I should be more willing to see what's behind that door. It could be a brick wall or it could lead to some place outside my comfortable boundaries. Wherever that path may lead me, what's important now is to step forward onto that track. What's weird is that as far as I could remember being a kid, I didn't want to grow up. Growing up meant so many things. And now that no one's looking, in a blink of an eye, the childish escape has gone.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Hoofer Sailing Social

an excerpt from J. M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy

"Second to the right, and straight on till morning."

That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to the Neverland; but
even birds, carrying maps and consulting them at windy corners,
could not have sighted it with these instructions. Peter, you
see, just said anything that came into his head.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hoofers All Club Kickoff

On Wednesday night, I had gone to Kendo practice and immediately afterwards stopped by the Union for the Hoofers All Clubs Kickoff. I volunteered to staff the tables to recruit new members--basically, I gave them the spiel about the club. What I enjoyed most was to enthusiastically tell the newcomers about what I had done this summer--the windsurfing, the sailing, Pirate's Day, and with great joy Commodore's Cup.

Once I left the Union, I met up with David and Julie for a small dinner at the Opus Lounge. Although we didn't take any formal dinner, we ordered several appetizers of which included a plate of goat cheese and another of pulled chicken meat served on the side of pita and salsa. The meal was mostly for the fulfillment of our hunger because we came for the drinks.

After leaving the downtown area, we decide to hit up the Crystal Corner on Willie Street for a more relaxed atmosphere and most importantly a cheaper bar. There we met up with David's cousin Andrea where we joked about her being another Toy and my place in Charlie's shoes. All of this set in the background music of the live honky-tonk band.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Labor Day

Labor Day meant another day off from classes, however, there's no rest for most of the Green Team who have committed themselves to the call of duty at DoIT. Now that school is well on its way, our call volumes shoot straight up as we find more work and less time on our hands.

My Tuesday classes are spent almost exclusively with Prof. Murray. She is of all things the prominent scholar of Chinese art at the university. After class we get to speaking about me helping with the department's technology needs. Thomas Gombar, the curator of visual resources and the department's technology go-to-guy, is checking into the hospital with cancer. I thought I'd offer my computer know-how and seek out what I might be able to do for the art history department.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 1

Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy Birthday Alice!

I slept in pretty good on Sunday that when I woke up, I felt so energized. I took a call from David reminding me that it's Alice's birthday so I head up to the Union Terrace where most of the Toy family had gathered. Jerry and Barbara had come down from Waukesha for their youngest's birthday and big brother Charlie had made the trip from Minnesota.

I join them all for a beer before heading down to the lake. I invited Alice for a sail today so her friend Liz tags along as well with me and David in one Badger Sloop. We make it a short trip to catch the last of the setting sun. It's also a time to teach a thing or two about sailing and I let them take turns steering.

When we get back in, the last little bit of light is fleeting fast and we make plans for Alice's birthday dinner. While Alice and Liz go home to clean up, David and I make a trip to pickup Julie and his roomate Sarah. For the choice of restaurant, I picked out Takara Japanese Steakhouse for a good nearby sushi place.

The evening went by great as our waitress confuses my order and brings out four jars of sake instead of the one large one that I had asked for. We take it anyways and use it to toast to just anything at the top of my mind. When dinner was over, I had asked them to bring out a birthday selection for Alice. On her special dish was a selection of ice creams and fruits. One fruit in particular, an apple (my favorite of fruits), was crafted into a cute little bird.

Alice's Birthday '05

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Alice's Birthday '05

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Weekly Horoscope: 09-04-2005

There should be a great atmosphere at home in the early part of the week, Fei, with such a heartwarming emphasis on fun and entertainment. If you have been planning a party then it will work out well. If you are expecting guests it will also be a good occasion. If you work from home you will get a lot of opportunities come your way, which you should take full advantage of. Wednesday has promise, but it is not so easy as other people and their defense mechanisms may thwart your progress. Friday is not the day to get involved in complicated contracts or to try and untangle any kind of legal problem. Mercury in Virgo moves in opposition to Uranus in Pisces and this is going to cause some surprising twists and turns of fate. You may have thought you had it all planned out - but the cosmos has other ideas, so it is best to go with the flow at this time. The Moon also opposes Mars, which isn't so great for harmonious discussion. Do the best you can and try not to be too sensitive about it all. Venus moves into your love and romance zone on Sunday, which is wonderful for introducing a note of passion into your life.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Syllabus Day

It's Friday and officially the first day of the Fall Semester. I have only one class today and it's with Prof. Philips on the topic of Medieval Religious Japanese Art. Since most first days of class are usually introductory and hardly productive, I had termed these days Syllabus Day since your typical student goes in, gets a syllabus and then goes home.

On a positive note, I arrived for my first day on time. :)

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 2