Tuesday, January 31, 2006


For Monday night's Kendo practice, all of us were greeted with a surprise visit from Kiyota Sensei. He came to evaluate us for the upcoming Kendo Promotional Exams at the Detroit Kendo Open in two weeks. Before jumping into combat he gives a short lecture about our self-development.

He says that there are three phases of development.

First, we must all work on KIHON (basic movement and technique) until the movement becomes almost instinctive, obtaining a perfect action.

Second, he says, is DESTRUCTION. By this he means to forget everything we've learned because the learning is no longer sufficient. We must forget in order to let the body respond to the action and feeling of combat. Since the moment we open our eyes to the world we learn to fear. To let go of this fear and face down the object at hand is the essence of destruction.

The third and last phase is to develop CREATIVITY. This he cannot he teach us. He can only guide and provide examples. Sensei can direct us on the path which includes combining attacks and turning defence into offence. Again, this development is not possible without deconstructing everything we have learned in the past, to observe and see an opponent's angle of attack before he commits. The key component of creativity, he says, is to have concentration. He warns against Kendo for the sake of stamina building but instead to rest the mind and truly concentrate on the moment.

When I went for my sho-dan (black belt) test last November, there was question about my testing because I was told to learn humility. I went to the test and failed. I had not expected to test again until next November but Kiyota Sensei evaluates us and recommends that Travis and I take the exam. This time he says I lack confidence. He sees in my attack a mis-trust in my own ability and to pass this test will help me regain confidence. He is right afterall. I've been doubting a lot lately what I'm capable of in my own training but still, I need to think about if I should test again so soon. To fail again will take away much more.

After practice, I guess I was feeling pretty good about Kiyota Sensei's confidence in me so I stop by Lucky's Bar to meet up with David and Jenica and the rest of the guys for some wings. It's no official Wingsday by any means but man, I craved those chicken wings.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Kendo Confidence

Kendo isn't just a question of physical force, but also requires "sanchin" - self-control and good spirit. A kendoka with a strong sanchin is always in total control of all his movements and always maintains his situation awareness, self-confidence and fighting spirit. Sanchin is an essential part of an attack.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Mission Statement

Any business without a mission statement is a business without direction. Today, the Tech Buddies met again to address issues that have not been resolved in the last week. A good example is our use of the logo which has been debated on over and over again and yet there's no finished product. We've had the initial concept down and we veered from it but only to return to the original idea now. What a mess--this issue had to be resolved and we did just that today.

Also on the agenda of course was coming up with a mission statement.

"Tech Buddies is founded on the idea of having a personal guide dedicated to realizing your technological potential by providing service, maintenance and the education for people of all levels of computing experience."

At its root is the fundamental concept for our business model and the clientelle we will serve. I think this model will work well yet may evolve as the business grows. There was a lot more covered in this hour and a half meeting and I'm even more proud of the progress we're making. The question now is if we can handle demand when the time comes. Marketing matters aside, this concern has earned top priority.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Year of the Dog

Kung Hei Fat Choi!
Happy Chinese New Year everyone.

This year will be the Year of the Dog.

People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people's confidence because they know how to keep secrets. But Dog People are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. They can find fault with many things and are noted for their sharp tongues.

I got up early this morning to talk to relatives overseas. Our morning is their night so a worldly compromise must be made on who calls whom. For the first time though we called to Guangzhou using the internet and the power of webcam conferencing. They thought this to be a neat trick and something we must do more of in the future. Because this Saturday is actually New Year's Eve, tomorrow will be the day the family goes to visit my grandparents and ancestors and pay honor to the family. Unfortunately I can't be with them and so my cousins will have to take along my prayers and blessings.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 1

Chinese New Year

Friday, January 27, 2006

Taking Damage

This Wednesday night was my first practice back with other members of the UW Kendo Club. While there's much to be desired when working on my own form, there's a different feel to practicing with others--especially when it comes to striking properly and hitting the angles of attack. Sadly, weeks of working on my own have made me too comfortable with fighting an invisible opponent.

After a short warm-up and drill practice we went straight into ji-geiko (combat practice) which paired me up with Sam. I match up well with him because he's a faster, shorter striker but I've got the height, strength and patience to thwart his initial attack. Just a short time into the bout, I start to feel some pain in my right wrist. It appears that my kote (gloves) have taken quite a bit of damage and the padding inside has fallen out. We end our match and I sit aside to assess. Once the gloves were off, I can see the red spots that indicated bruising and the darker purple bruises that marked a hit to the body, spots which were not offered protection by armor. The pain...it doesn't get to me. It's a slight annoyance if anything. It just comes with sport practice and I jump back in for another match.

Though I'll need a replacement pair of gloves for the months ahead, it's a welcome beginning for a new semester of Kendo.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 2

Damaged Kote

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Good Faith in People

I had a late night grocery shopping excursion and then stopped by the post office to drop off a package. On my way out, I was approached by a woman needing help. Her car was slowly leaking gasoline and didn't have enough fuel to get home. Furthermore, she didn't have any money on her to fill up and was scared to be stranded alone. I of course ask if I could help in anyway, give her a ride somewhere, or anything. Her home is out in Middleton and she's stuck here on Madison's east side. She said she couldn't leave her car here either. I asked if she had a spare gas canister to fill up. She says no.

I run over to look at the situation and her tank is indeed leaking ever so lightly. But then I see a gas canister in the back of the beat-up car and it's starting to look a bit sketchy. She then asks for money to help her out and I'm left there to think if this isn't some sort of scam. Appealing to my better nature, I give her twenty bucks along with my phone number as she has promised to pay me back. Reflecting upon the situation, even if it were a scam, it looked like she could use the money.

This morning she actually calls for my address and she will repay me. I guess I'm just glad she made it home let alone expect the repayment. Sometimes you're presented with a decision to question a person's will or trust their good faith. Last night, I made the decision to give in the face of doubt. I'm glad I chose to help. It has certainly restored my good faith in others.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 2

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Life in the Back Seat

Have you ever felt like life has put you in the back seat?
Someone's behind the wheel and it's not you.

Now that things are changing for me (and they're changing incredibly fast), I can't help but feel that I'm no longer the driver--just a passenger in the back and I have no idea where life's taking me. There's a school of thought which says to ignore the destination, just enjoy the ride. While it all sounds fine and dandy, not knowing where you're going can cause unwarranted fears in the mind. It's the not knowing that drives people to lost whereabouts in the questioning soul.

My studies this semester will have me examine the workings of Buddhism from its roots in India to its later development in all of Asia. I guess I've always had an interest in the subject and perhaps even a good understanding of its fundamentals but really, the seeker of this truth is the one who searches for a way out. Out of what you say? Well, it's to free yourself from this world--not just to take hold of the wheel but to leave the vehicle that drives the present life.

Yet, maybe I'm not ready to leave--there's still much to be done in this life. Compassion to help others along the way is the noble path and the key to good karma.

Again, there will be things in this world that drives me and leaves me without control. I can only handle the things that I am able to master and steer life in the right direction. Is that not reason to continue on the noble path?

I think yes.
Only time will tell.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Back Seat

"Every man has his own destiny: The only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him."
-Henry Miller

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tech Buddies Go Live

I had declared a month ago that Tech Buddies would go live today. Though I hadn't expected everything to fall into place, I am quite content on the progress that we have made. As of today I expected us ready to take customers and in a way, we are ready. The real next task at hand is the big marketing push. The website wasn't quite ready yet so the marketing gets pushed back. Just as well though--I would rather have us do it right from the get go.

This morning, however, I would not have us make it a big work day. For starters, we had no customers yet. My decision to meet at Mickey's Dairy Barn for a breakfast kickoff was more for sentiment and a hearty meal. I was just glad to have the guys together to talk about our new start on life, a new venture. I believe that this start has good potential. Together we can make it great.

What we did here today was to fall in line with a history of technology pioneers. Amongst the most known are Michael Dell who built custom computers in his dorm room, Bill Gates who dropped out of Harvard to pursue programming for the Altair, and Steve Jobs who built the first personal computer out of his parent's garage with his friend Woz. From these humble beginnings grew Dell Computers, Microsoft, and Apple.

I don't expect us to be greats or even known to such capacities. My only expectations from here on out are simple. I expect us to commit fully in every aspect both professionally and personally. In the process, I believe we can discover ourselves and make our own futures and fortunes. Today we start anew.

Today, Tech Buddies Go Live!

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Kevin and I at Mickey's Dairy Barn

Waiting for my Real Life to Begin by Colin Hay

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
I'll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Flying Kites at Vilas

After my last night at DoIT, I decided to go out for a drink with David. Andre and Katie had come down from Milwaukee and I was "required" to stop by. I met up with them at the Karaoke Kid and was jolted by surprise when both Andre and David lifted me up on their shoulders in one drunken act. It was the usual karaoke fun and it turned out to be one of those late nights.

Unfortunate was the fact that I had to get up early for a snow kiting lesson. I went out to Vilas Park barely awaken and was just trying to keep it together. After a spout of morning air and the cool touch of the breeze, I was finally awaken. I partnered up with John and practiced launching and flying the kite. Because the wind had never really picked up, the whole lesson was a big letdown.

Toward the end, we moved our location just out past one of the Vilas ponds. A light steady wind finally began to blow so I rigged up with Amy to get a last bit of flying time before leaving.

Once David and Kelly came by, we went over to our new house on Drake Street. I had contacted the tenants earlier about a house showing for Kelly and her interest for next semester. It also gave us a meeting with the current tenant to go over a last bit of information.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Amy Flying Kites at Vilas

Friday, January 13, 2006

Godspeed Green Team

My last day of work for the DoIT Help Desk, Green Team

There use to be a tradition on Green Team that when one leaves, he
sends out his final goodbye. As many of you have noticed on this
term's schedule, I will not be alongside you on this next leg.

This is my turn to say goodbye.

Please note that I'm not abandoning the team or jumping ship at this
time where in fact my decision to leave has been a great
contemplation. And with such considerable resolves, I tell you now
that it is my time to leave.

I want to spend this final time with you talking about what Green
Team has meant for me. Above all, it is about working together to
accomplish a goal. Quite simply, we solve computer problems. We did
all of this for our peers and colleagues and we have done this like
no other. All of you have been like family to me in this endeavor
and I cannot thank you enough for working with me.

One more thing...

There was a time when I took on a leadership role on this team and I
want to tell you what I learned in the process. Any and all success
that you achieve here must not go distinguished alone. Your
achievements will be greatest when you share that success with the
team. And as a leader, your victories or failures lay in your
capacity to communicate and share the vision for success.
Leadership does not entail being high and mighty and she should never
be afraid to get her hands dirty. I hope that I have shown you that
I’m not afraid to do some work around here and that when the time
comes I’m ready to take on any challenge—I see this in all of you. I
cannot be any more proud.

So it’s goodbyes and kind regards.
My best wishes for you in your academic and professional careers.
Godspeed Green Team.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Something New, Something Cute

Though it may be a subtle change, I've moved to a new server. In fact, it sits on the very same server dishing out the Tech Buddies website so this is a good test for limited, narrow demand before going live with the main site. With the change, I'm beginning to import my old photo galleries to the new Gallery.

Again, no one came to Kendo practice today so I went about working on my own form. After a shortened practice, I went upstairs to check out the UW Aikido Club to watch their practice as well as get information about the club. I don't know how much time I'll actually have in my schedule to start something new but it doesn't hurt to inquire.

As far as something cute goes, try these sites:
* Cute Overload! ;)
* Stuff on my Cat
* the bra log (not sure if we can call this one cute...)

Activity: 2 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 2


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Closing Day

It's been a rough couple of days scrambling to get everything together for today's closing. John had made the meeting as late into the day as possible so that we could close on time. There was a slight mishap at the bank but it was resolved by early morning. The only thing left to do was a final walk-through and then we buy.

I met David at the UW Credit Union to open a joint account in order to manage our finances. I guess I will act as the accountant and guardian of the joint checking account. Afterwards, we run by Lucky's Bar for a pre-drink and then met John at the house. In all honesty, I went into that walk-through a little buzzed but that's usually how we really get things done.

The closing itself went rather quickly with mostly us signing packets among packets of documents and us joking around a little with all the parties involved. In the end, we handed over our certified check with all due at closing and became the new owners of the Drake Street house.

We return to Lucky's for a final toast before meeting up with Julie. Then it's off to the Churchkey Bar and ending our night at the Karaoke Kid. The karaoke was fun--haven't done that in a while. In our rendition of Neil Diamond's Coming to America, we won over a few people and I got to hanging out with a few fun girls and bringing them in for another song.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Drake Street Kitchen

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

King Kong

It's back to the fore with work last night. The mini vacation from daily life was much needed. I went about today as any other except to meet the guys at Union South for another Tech Buddies meeting. We covered a lot of ground in terms of finalizing minute details. When the meeting ended I went to Kendo practice as usual. At the Nat, they're re-surfacing the hardwood floors in the upstair's gyms so no one came to practice. I went downstairs to our normal dojo and practiced on my own. Something's different though...I'm not sure what it is.

After practice, I got cleaned up and met Brock at the Electric Earth Cafe out there on West Washington Street. We got down to making a few more drawings for the Tech Buddies logo. It's coming along quite well.

Once I left the small cafe, I called up Amber about seeing a movie at University Square Theater. We decided on Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong. It was a long movie, full of spectacular special effects, but it was the acting and the cast of actors that made the movie work. Overall, I'd say it was pretty good.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Face from the Past

The early morning sun that came upon Boston’s harbor was magnificent. A glow can be seen on any surface and any movement signaled the start of the day. On this day, the very second of the year, we leave for home. As usual, I pack up my stuff so I wouldn’t have to dig around later. We get up fairly quickly and plan the shortened day ahead. This morning my itinerary asked for a short trip out to the Cambridge-Harvard area.

After asking for a late checkout we leave our hotel with our bags on our backs. Since I’ve been making a habit of traveling light, this was no problem at all. The red train took us northwest across the harbor and into Cambridge. The stop was clearly marked Harvard and we got off to a quiet yet still bustling part of this heart of the nation’s academia. It didn’t take long to figure out a way around the place and soon I found myself at the closed Arthur M. Sackler Gallery—the one museum I had wanted to visit. I had suspected this so and it wasn’t like I was disappointed. Positively, it gave me reason to come back.

By now, it was late morning and Dustin and I stop for a quick breakfast when I receive a call from Aquene. She was preparing to go to work for the day and we decided to meet up before I left Boston tonight. Coincidently, she was located just one stop away from the Harvard exit and I met her just outside the Central Square station.

The New Year had come with little fan fare but quite a bit of fun. Everything was falling into place and I felt great. When I met Aquene, a friend whom I originally met at DoIT, I felt even happier to see a face from out of the past. She led us to the social urbanite hangout that is the Middle East Nightclub and Restaurant. We were their only customers at midday and this was our time to catch up on all those things that have happened since her time away from Madison.

From the moment I had reacquainted myself with Aquene, I felt a strong link to her and all the things that she’s doing in her life. She’s working for a non-profit organization that’s raising money and bringing awareness to environmental issues as well as health and social matters. In fact, she had a trip to India on the horizon to work with the survivors and people involved in the Bhopal disaster. Aquene is without a doubt a truly genuine person that’s taking time to actually affect people’s lives in such a positive way—this I envy most. Though we had only a short time before she had to work, we talked throughout over our morning beverages and spinach pie. The time went by so fast and we finally departed ways at the train station. I hope that the next time I’m back this way that we get another chance to catch up.

My T stop was again back at the airport so that I would meet up with Dustin again before checking out. Taking a moment to plan out the rest of the day, we get a call to meet Melissa again to meet her out in front of Faneuil Hall. Her friend Fahmi met us and took us to the Prudential Center and the top floor Skywalk Observatory with a viewpoint that overlooked all of Boston. We get these little radio tour guide receivers which informed you of the major monuments and sites of interest. After a longwinded tour I started to add comments of my own that made way for a much more interesting tour guide perspective.

With the tour out, we go back downstairs to the Legal Seafoods restaurant, a more upscale dining experience for our last night. On the flat screen LCDtv across the way, I catch a snippet of the football game that had Wisconsin beating Auburn in the Capitol One Bowl. But back to dinner…I order us a complementary wine from Cheverny to go with tonight's seafood. I order the baked swordfish for myself along with their famous New England clam chowder and I would be amiss if I left Boston without trying the Boston cream pie.

Then, for the second time today, I say goodbye to another friend. Melissa left us at the Airport station and I set off for home.

New Year's Gallery | Boston

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Aquene and Fei at the Middle East Club

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hello Year 2006

Head pounding, I look out the window to catch the first light of the New Year morning. As I begin to remember more residual traces of last night I now recall Dustin taking a wheel chair from the airport to cart his drunk self back to the room. Though he was now sleeping on the floor just short of his bed, I distinctly remember him spending the better part of the night laid out just outside our hotel room door.

Once I get myself ready for the day I take Melissa to the airport to meet up with her brother. She would go home for the day while Dustin and I take things easy. I intended to take this day for pampering and relaxation. Because we were not in the mood for sightseeing I lead us to the New England Aquarium for the 3D IMAX movie, Sharks. Afterwards, Dustin had a quest of his own to replace a soft drink he had taken out of the mini bar.

Back at the hotel I take in a swim and relax in the Jacuzzi. The calming feeling of basking myself in the hot swirling jets just loosened my body all over. This was truly the way to spend the first day of the year. When I get back up to the room I asked Dustin why he didn’t come down for a swim. After almost breaking into a full guffaw I notice he was cleaning himself up in the bathroom because of an incident with a clogged toilet.

We make a call to get the maintenance guy up there as we hastily left the room. As we head out into the city again I decide that we should try a path we have yet to explore. At some point in our Boston night walk we find ourselves back in the Beacon Hill area. We came upon a very cozy tavern called the Sevens. I asked the cute girl going in if this was a good place to hang out and she said “yes, of course, but I work here.” Well then, I follow her in and we belly up to the bar for a drink. This pub was another excellent choice. There was a high bar on one side while parallel on the other side were banks of wooden booths where people came to rest and to drink in good spirits. The front windows had fogged up in the air of the cool night and only a blurry image of the outside had come through. This was the image of Boston for me—friendly and inviting.

Leaving, we venture back out for a very long night walk throughout all parts of the city. Literally, we came upon the north end and then back down to south Boston by way of Chinatown. We continue our trip through the theater district and back through the park. Here we run into a funny side note. As I crossed the street to the park I mention to Dustin “see, there are other guys out wearing their backpacks around.” Stepping back, I see that it’s a white guy with a backpack, accompanied by an Asian guy and then another white girl. The three of them were just leisurely walking through the park. You must see the reflective irony in all this—we must have entered a bizarro world where the three of them were the mirror images of ourselves from yesterday.

With that bizarre scene over, we head back to get a good night’s rest. We leave tomorrow and there’s still much to be done.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 2

Beantown Pub