Saturday, November 26, 2005


After working a very easy third shift at the Help Desk last night, I dressed myself warmly for my snow kiting lessons with Jeane. This is the first season that Hoofers will be hosting this extreme sport as part of club activities. As for safety concerns, the University's risk management is actively looking at how this sport might affect the club and the continuation of the program.

With the weekend snow fall and cold, most of the people who signed up for today's lesson had bailed. John and myself met with Jeane and Juan at Warner park to go over safety and rigging. Then we went outside to search for a clear area to launch the kites. I started off on a 3 meter kite and even in today's light winds, it packed quite a bit of power. I was astonished how quickly I could pick this up. I learned how to carve figure eights in the sky and control the speed and power of the kite. Early on I struggled to keep the kite flying because Jeane said that I was not committing. The flight of the kite relies on tension and movement and only in committing to a turn will keep it flying. For now, the goal is to get more flying time before actually taking them out on the lake. Besides, the lakes haven't frozen over yet despite the cooler temperatures.

When I got done with the lesson, I headed downtown to meet David to look at a house on Adams Street for a final time. We were interested in buying the house and it put us in urgent mode when an offer was made by another party. Stephanie, a friend and realtor, had made the trip from Waukesha with David to offer us the guidance we so desperately needed. Everything was going so quickly that before we could grasp the entirety of the situation, we put in an offer with our buyer agent. After all, only hours ago I was learning about commitment.

Of all the things that were going through my head at the moment, I have to say that excitement had trumped all at the chance that we could be homeowners tonight. The three of us, while we waited, went to Lucky's for lunch. After two pitchers of beer and a most filling meal, we got the call. Our agent had called David and flat out said that our offer was passed by--our competitor's bid accepted. Hearing of the news was definitely a downer but then again, I think that some things weren't meant to be and there's plenty of other homes out there. I'm sure that when it is time, opportunity will find us. If anything, today has taught us one thing and it is that we're ready to commit to our actions.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Snow Kiting at Warner

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Day of Thanks

The time of year has come again for family gathering and Thanksgiving. This year, my family and I had a Thanksgiving lunch at my Aunt and Uncle's new house in Sun Prairie. All the extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins that could make the trip had come. A buffet line spread of traditional Thanksgiving meals to varieties of Chinese dishes made an appearance and dissappeared soon after. It's crazy you know to see how much my cousins have grown. Even the youngest is now up to my shoulder's height and attending high school. Then there's the oldest who is engaged and ready to start another life.

After lunch, I stopped home to gather my things before running into work. I'm working this holiday with Peter because someone's got to keep the Help Desk running. I don't mind much since Green Team is in a big way my other family.

Let me tell you about these guys...

Several years ago, my grandfather in China had passed away and my parents rushed to get on the next plane. My sister and I stayed behind so we would not miss any school. At the time I was living in my new apartment downtown so Diana went to stay with relatives. I didn't know many people then with the exception of my two roommates. They returned home to their families for Thanksgiving break so I decided that I would work the holiday. Little did I know that several Green Teamers would also not be returning to their families and the few who were in town invited all of us over for lunch before work.

I was incredibily thankful to be welcomed in when it was I who most needed a family then. I made a call to my sister and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving and after eating, the few of us went to work that night. It was a bonding experience and it opened my eyes to the caring nature of this Green Team. I have since touted the line when teamwork is involved and I remember every time how we've been there for each other.

Now I've spent Thanksgiving with my actual family and I still remember to thank the fortunes that gave me the chance to meet the great people of the Green. I thank my parents and sister who have not given up on me. And I'm most thankful for the friends whom I've met along the way in these past years. You have defined my life in more ways than you can ever know.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Thanksgiving '05

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Superman Returns Teaser

It's amazing what a good breakfast does for me. I felt much energized and went about a full day.

As excited as I was to hear about this past year's Batman Begins movie, I was ecstatic to catch a glimpse of Superman Returns tonight in commercial.

As for the story behind the new movie, it reads: The return of Superman to a society that has learned to survive without him. With modern advancement, heroes like him are antiquated. He returns to find a Lois Lane that has moved on. But when danger threatens again, Superman must protect the world he loves. This is the story of his redemption and return.

Superman Returns
Movie Teaser

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 1

Superman Returns

"Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them only son."
-Jor El of Krypton

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kendo Demonstration in the Great Hall

I met with Prof. Murray today to talk about my term paper topic. While there wasn't much time to cover all the ground work that I had liked, it was clear that I have much work to do.

I went into work after class for a short shift before taking the night off. The UW Kendo Club was sponsoring a small demonstration at the Great Hall Memorial Union and I had a role to play.

I had invited several people and was especially glad that many had come. I've spent the last year studying the Art of the Sword and it was my pleasure to share that which has cultivated my spirit. It has taught me about failure and success and led me on a path of disciplining the human character. There is a truth that we all seek and it lies within the realization of individual growth.

The demonstration itself was fairly short. Mark gave a brief introduction of the history of Kendo along with a rundown of the armor we wear and the striking points we aim for in the sport. He followed his approach with a few demonstrations including several from myself and fellow club members. Sam and I had the pleasure of introducing kata. At the end of the presentation we bowed to the audience on each side and spread out to greet our friends in attendance.

After quickly cleaning up the area, we put our gear away to meet for dinner. As usual, Mark treats us to dinner at the Takara Japanese Steakhouse on State Street for the hard work we put in for the demonstration.

As for another treat tonight, Wisconsin Public Television was broadcasting a short segment about Kiyota Sensei and his teaching of Kendo at the University.

In Wisconsin - Kendo

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

 UW Kendo Club Great Hall Exhibition '05

~a pretty trippy picture of Sam, Eric, and me (above)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Life Unfolding...

Last night was the one year anniversary of this blog. I remember still why I started writing...

I was returning from a night of work and I stepped out of the car to see the streaky lights of the aurora above. It was as if the heavens and cosmos had converged for those few hours to give a glimpse of its immeasureable power. It was so amazing an experience that I wanted to record that moment in time and thus this blog was born. I've kept to the initial charter by continuing to write and record the things I want to remember in my life.

It started to grow...

Initially, I had no idea what about my life was particularly interesting. I included many random thoughts, things I read, items of interest, but nothing very personal. When I started to write about events in time and the people who involved themselves within those moments, I began my curiosity in capturing life unfolding. Certainly there were sad times, but they contrasted with the great times that I had wanted to cherish. In a year I had given this blog my story and exposed my life as an open book.


I was again the highest ranking student (sempai) in Kendo practice last night and led the class in warmups and basics practice. It's strange how people are listening to me when I've felt nothing but disappointment in this last weekend's failure. I must move on though and continue my training. Mark came later and relieved me so that I could go to Diana's Volleyball Banquet.

At her dinner, my dad and I sat in as the coach praised Diana, along with her senior teammates, of the final achievements in their high school sport. They spoke of work ethic and the desire to see each other succeed. This alone spoke loudly of teamwork and I am graced with the gentle reminder.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 2

East Girls Senior Volleyball Team '05

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wingsday '05 Unidentified Frying Object

I spent the better part of Monday morning recovering from the weekend tournament. Though I very much enjoy Kendo, it sure takes a lot out of me. By late afternoon I tossed the idea around about going to practice when I know not many people will show up. I go anyways and worked on the basics of striking and footwork with a couple of club newbies. There's no better way to prepare for the next test than to begin my training now. Because I was the senior student (sempai) I led the class in practice.

After practice I drop in to help Kiyota Sensei with the last edits of his book manuscript. I take my scanner so that we can put in the images where were once placeholders. I'm hoping I can do my best to help him meet his January deadline.

Once I left Sensei's house I stopped in at Lucky's Bar to meet the small group already assembled for Wingsday. There was Dr. Wings (Mik), Sarah, Scott, Steirs, and a newcomer, Genevieve. A pre-wings was ordered early on and we all dug in. Genevieve was pretty serious about her wings and threw around the slogan "We're not f@#king around here!" thus earning her nickname Rookie.

When Steph and Smiley arrived, another large order was put in and we were faithfully served by our new waitress Jackie. She seemed a bit puzzled yet perhaps equally excited to have us and become part of the Wingsday tradition. David and Julie dropped in followed by Mongo (Dan). Though Justin and Meghan sat in, they didn't participate in the wings. Since no Wingsday is without Neck Piece (Chen) and Skim Milk (Kristin) we put in more orders as they came to boost tonight's numbers. As for a surprise show, Stephen came by with some friends and introduced them to our little Wingsday group. In the end 160 wings were added to the tally, just 5 short of 4500.

The night was rather excessive but sedate if not demure, being the first Wingsday Night in so long a time. Nonetheless it was a fun gathering. Now I'm not sure if it was the numerous amount of wings or if there was just something in the air, but there sure was a good amount of weird looking pieces of chicken--be it neck pieces or some, as Kristin put it, "they look like pork ribs." Thankfully we have Chen to thank for finishing them up. Ah yes, another wing craving has subsided.

Wingsday '05 Unidentified Frying Object
Chart | Gallery

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Wingsday '05 Unidentified Frying Object

when asked about Wingsday...

"We're not f@#king around here!"
-Rookie Genevieve

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Midwest Kendo Federation Fall '05 Tournament

Saturday was the morning of the Midwest Kendo Tournament. As usual, our team rushed through breakfast to leave on time. We actually overestimated the distance to the gym so we get there pretty early and had plenty of time to warm up. The San-dan (third degree black belt) group fought first for a change and then followed up by Women and Youth divisions and finally, the Mudansha division. I got seeded in one of the early matches against J. Stokes of the University of Chicago Kendo Club. The match went through all of the alloted time but he was able to get a men hit (head) on me and thus won the match. I know I could've won because I noticed his weakness early on. He lifted his shinai (sword) in anticipation of every one of my attacks and so I could have hit his do (torso) on many chances but alas, I didn't take advantage. I lost.

Watching my teammate's individual fights, I cheered on and was especially proud of the new club members who won their matches. They battled hard and moved up in the rankings. After lunch came the team matches and my team consisted of myself, Mike (Omernick), Chor, Sam, and Jon (Augelli). Our first fight was against the East West Connection Kendo Club and our strategy was simple--score a point, don't lose any for the team. By strategizing in this way, we beat them to advance to the next bracket. The second team that we fought against was probably one of the best teams in the tournament, the Central Indiana Kendo Club led by Hajime Sugarwara--seven time winner of the Midwest Tournament. Needless to say they kicked our butt.

With the tournament over we head back to the hotel to get cleaned up for tonight's banquet at Grizzly's Grill N' Saloon. All the participants of the tournament came as we sat amongst our peers to eat over a good day's fight. Both Rick and I start the night by buying pitchers of beers for the team. Let's just say that it helped loosen people up and get the party started. Dinner was fun but we had to leave to get rest for tomorrow's testing.

Sunday morning was the day of the big test. I'm testing for Sho-dan along with my fellow kenshi of the UW Kendo Club. I warmed up with a light round of kata thinking I knew how this was going to work. I was wrong. When the ceremonies began, I lined up like the others and was simply stunned like a deer in headlights. All that we were tested on were two bouts of shiai (combat) and it was over just like that. I remember facing my opponent and all these thoughts rushed into my mind. My conciousness was not clear and I let the ego get the better of me. The testing committee, led by none other than Sugawara himself, was especially strict and failed most of the group--less than a fourth actually went on to get to the kata portion of the test. Rick, Eric, and myself all failed our tests. Out of our Club, Sam was the only one to get his Sho-dan.

I congratulated everyone who succeeded before taking some personal time to meditate on my failure. I know now what I need to correct for the next test and it's only a matter of how much time I put in at the dojo. The upcoming tournament will most likely be the Detroit Open. I'd like to say I'll try harder next time but I won't say or think it. There is only passing or failure and I cannot fail again.

Midwest Kendo Federation Fall '05 Tournament

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Midwest Kendo Federation Fall '05 Tournament


Rick for taking third place in the Senior Division
Sam for getting his Sho-dan

Also, Jonathan, Mike, Tia, and Tyler--
for successfully completing your 1-Kyu tests.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Tournament Tradition

I'm leaving for the Midwest Kendo Federation Fall '05 Tournament this weekend. Excitement loomed in my mind all day over tonight's departure as I gathered my things for class. In today's discussion of Buddhist art I had a few words in debating Prof. Phillip's thoughts about a particular image. It was a healthy discussion and I think the whole class benefited from it.

By late afternoon I ran out for a quick bite with David and Julie at Curry N' Hurry before going home to pack. I began washing my hakama gi last night and finished ironing it when I returned home. I remember from the last Kendo testing about keeping our clothes clean and fresh. It is said that this can be traced back to a samurai tradition of preparing for battle.

I have a tradition of my own. I clean my gi always one practice from a tournament so that the sweat from the last practice session gets absorbed into the fabric--a reminder to give it my all in any given match. I've done this since my days in Karate and Hwa Rang Do and have thus kept the tradition.

This last practice before tournament was excellent. Nearly every member of the UW Kendo Club came to work hard so that we can properly represent our dojo. We went through it hard with very little break before coming together for some last words. Then we assembled into our University vans and left for La Crosse.

Our club is staying at the Stoney Creek Inn where we checked in before heading out for a team dinner. Since we usually eat a good meal the night prior to tournament, we chose to dine at the Outback Steakhouse for the most superb steak. After dinner we return to the hotel to relax and get our equipment in order. I'm sharing my room with Eric and Sam--both of them are testing with me on Sunday.

Before turning in for the night I gather everyone up and buy them one drink at the hotel saloon. We toast to good luck in tomorrow's tournament.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Midwest Kendo Federation Fall '04 Tournament

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Catching up over Dinner

Though Tuesdays can be crazy at times, the nights tend to be my time off to relax from the regular hustle of the week. Weeks ago, I had planned to have dinner with Stephanie to catch up on all the things that have passed by in the world--a reunion of sorts to ask my friend "Hey, how are ya?"

It seems that no matter how hard I try to be on time for things, something always impedes my ability to do so. On my way out the door I get a call about a computer case that I took on as a side project and that I'm reminded to pick up after dinner. Oh bother, I'm late but as usual Steph understands. I meet up with Stephanie at her work and we walk down to Rubin's where Shana had invited us to a gala opening for a local artist. His works were interesting though I have to admit that I don't know much about modern art. Nonetheless, the wine and sushi were delightful accomplices to art and our budding appetites.

On Julie's recommendation I suggest we try dinner at the Mystic Grill on Old Sauk Road but it's getting late and we can always plan that for another night. From the gala opening we take a short walk and decide to have our dinner at the Natt Spil on King Street. Incidently, this small establishment is where all us Rockstars met up after returning from the Vegas.

Dinner was pretty good and exceeded my expectations but tonight was more than simple replenishment. What I needed was to catch up with my good friend and find out how things are. I'm glad to hear that everything is going well and indeed, life is on track--all the hopes I had for her at the beginning of the year. Of anyone I know, she deserves this and it's about time that karma brings good returns.

I miss our conversations and regret having lost touch for so long. We should most certainly do this again, if not for my sake and having someone I can confide in. There are many things in this world that are uncertain and clouded by doubt but my trust in Steph is clear.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Steph and I at the Natt Spil

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Wing Craving

Kendo practice went great tonight. I always feel great after a bout of endurance training. There's only two more practices until the big midwest tournament and the teams are coming along so well. At this point in the game, it's no longer a matter of working on technique but about getting comfortable fighting in the style.

After practice I got this craving for hot buffalo wings. I feel that it's been far too long a hiatus from our regular Wingsday nights but everyone's just been so busy. With that said, next Monday will be the return to Wingsday. However, this does little for tonight's craving. Since I haven't had the chance to hang out with my bro David, I gave him a call to do a round of wings. I met up with him and Julie and we ended up picking up Brock for a tagalong. The place again is Lucky's Bar on Regent Street and I'm not sure if it was the absence from the tradition but tonight's wings were extra spectacular--a well deserved vice for hard work in the dojo.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3