Friday, March 31, 2006

New DAUB Drawings

For my next lesson, I had to chose two or three objects and draw them in pen. It didn't matter how closely they resembled the original objects, just so long as I drew them with dark, bold lines and didn't lift my pen from the paper until I absolutely had to. For homework, I have to draw at least two more objects and draw them.

My biggest difficulty in drawing like this is that I can't see. I can't see my object without my glasses, and I can't see my paper with them. I have wierd eyes.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

More Pictures of Italy

Since I don't have anything interesting to say tonight..or else it's so late that my brain isn't functioning correctly, I'll leave you with a couple more pictures of Italy. I'm almost done scanning the first album. One more to go, then comes the hard part--sorting, filing, and labeling them all.... and uploading them to Webshots. Sigh...quite a task I've undertaken, but I think it'll be worth it in the end. Anyway, the pictures...

This is Caligula's Arch, which spans a street in the ruined city of Pompeii.

Pompeii, as most folks know, was destroyed in 79 A.D in an eruption of

Mount Vesuvius. This is what Vesuvio, as it is called in Italian, looks like today--rather what it looked like in 1991. The smaller peak on the left is actually the remainder of the original volcano. In the extreme violence of an eruption, Vesuvius quite literally blew itself up. The peak on the right is the new Vesuvius, which rose from the remains of the mountain.

Looking at the volcano as it is today makes me wonder...

Just how big was that thing originally? Wouldn't it have been a sight to behold?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Band Concert

The spring band concert was last night and let me tell you, I was absolutely appalled at what I heard.

Oh, not the kids. The kids were great. They had worked hard and played really well.

But I was still appalled.

You see, I remember a day when you went to hear children perform, whatever they were doing, and actually sat quietly and listened to them. Even if you weren't that interested, you still respected the amount of work they put into their performance, and, well...sat quietly.

Not so anymore.

Apparently I'm pretty far out of the loop these days. Five bands played last night, a concert that lasted just shy of two hours. It was a standing room only crowd. That auditorium was packed with people.

I wondered why they were even there. They for sure weren't listening to the bands. They were too busy talking. There was NEVER a moment during those two hours when the audience was quiet. A steady murmer of conversation. People talking to each other. Talking on cell phones. Playing games on cell phones. Walking all over the auditorium.

Whatever happened to common courtesy?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


This is my grandfather, Walter Lee Gunstream, Sr.

He is posing in his World War I uniform. We called him Pappaw.

I don't really remember much about Pappaw because he died when I was 10. I'm told he got to be pretty grumpy in his old age.

I don't remember that.

I do remember he used to wear flip up sunglasses--clip ons over his regular glasses. As a small child, I was fascinated with them. They looked so weird sticking straight out from his face like they did.

I also remember sitting on his porch swing with him while he told me stories of the War.

I don't remember the stories. I don't remember the words he used. I don't remember anything he said.

I just remember that he spent time with me.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Simple Gestures

Sometimes the simplest gestures can have the most impact on people.

My dad's funeral procession.

I glanced out the window of the limosine, and saw a man standing on the sidewalk watching the procession approach. As the hearse passed him, he took off his hat and placed it over his heart.

I don't know who that man was, but I wish I did. So I could thank him.

Because ten years later that simplest of gestures still brings tears to my eyes.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


This is DAUB drawing #2. Again, we were supposed to draw it upside down. (I have given you the right side up version as well.) Again, I am not pleased with the result. And again, erasing and sketching out the drawing first were not allowed. I was just supposed to put my pen (although I did it in pencil) down in one spot and draw around the outline until it was done. This is actually my second attempt at the drawing, as the first one ran off the page. And yet again, the quality of the drawing was not important, just so long as I used dark, bold lines. This has got to be the wierdest drawing course I've ever taken. I'm already planning on getting rid of this book once I finish it. And I for sure won't be recommending it to beginners.

Josh and I went up to the dojo for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Why is it that men complain so when they get hit there, but refuse to wear personal protection? They say, "It's uncomfortable." But is it more uncomfortable than getting kicked in the groin?

Before we even started sparring, I asked Josh if he had his cup on. He said he didn't and admonished me to keep my kicks above the waist. I replied, "I can't promise that. My old legs don't always get up that high." So he can't say I didn't warn him. It was pretty cool though. He aimed a roundhouse at my head, which I blocked and came at him from behind with a squat kick. I didn't plan it that way, though he insists I did, it just happened.


I talked to John Tedder in church this morning and told him that Sensei is planning on having us tested soon. I told him that I didn't feel I was ready and he replied, "Yes you are. " I then expressed concern that the board wouldn't know what I could do and what I couldn't, and he said, "They know." I asked him how they would know if they've never seen me work, and he responded, "They have...they know."

I mentioned that my biggest concern was bunkai, since we'd never gone over bunkai for any kata higher than naihanchi. He said he'd try to get caught up so he could come up to the dojo and work bunkai with us between now and then.

Now back to scanning Italy pictures...

P.S. I apologize for the poor quality of the pics. They were taken with an old instamatic camera, many of them from the window of a moving tour bus.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Daunting Task

This morning, I set myself a pretty daunting task--one that I've been thinking about for a long time. I finally decided to get started.

Ok, what is this daunting task?

To scan and put on disc my pictures of Italy.

Yep, daunting task indeed.

I've barely gotten started, and I've got two albums full. That's approximately 400 photos.


This is what I looked like 15 years ago:

At the Coloseum in Rome, March 1991

Friday, March 24, 2006

Note to Self

Kodak EasyShare Camera Dock 6000 is not compatible with spilled Dr Pepper.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


This is my grandmother, Fannie Mae Winfree Gunstream.

This photo was taken when she was in her early 20s. She died February 28, 1987 at the age of 92. If she had been elderly these days, she would have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Back in those days, we called it going senile.

I didn't want to laugh. She was my grandmother and I loved and respected her. But some of the things she would say and do were just so funny.

Once it became apparent that she could no longer live alone, she moved in with my oldest aunt and her husband. A little while later, Aunt Martha and Uncle Verne decided to build a new home out on the old Winfree homestead, near their daughters and their families. So they sold their home and moved in with their youngest daughter for a few months while they built their new house right next door.

After a few weeks, the foundation of the new house was laid, and the framing was up. By this time, Mammaw had gotten to the point where she could not be left alone for any length of time.

It was my turn to stay with her when she pulled off her shoe and sock and showed me an almost perfectly round sore on the top of her foot. According to my uncle, she clonked her foot on the corner of the dresser. Mammaw had a different story.

"Do you see that sore? Do you know how I got that? Do you see those men? They're over there building one of those places. You know, where they keep them kind of women. I went out there to tell them to stop and they shot me in the foot! Can you believe that? There ought to be a law against shooting an old lady in the foot."

I tried not to laugh.


I did.

Quote for the Day

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

-- Patrick Henry (Speech to the Virginia Convention, 23 March 1775)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

DAUB Drawing #1

Well, here it is, DAUB drawing #1. And yes, we were supposed to draw it upside down. The purpose of that is to teach you to see lines and shapes rather than "a bird." Speaking of birds, when I got home from work this afternoon, there was a bird trapped in my bathroom. I don't know how it got into the house, but it took some doing to catch it and get it outside. It left my bathroom an absolute wreck, but I'm too lazy to go clean it up.

Back to the art lesson...I'm not exactly pleased with the result, but erasing was not allowed. However, according to Ms Garcia, it isn't the quality of the drawing that counts, but the quality of the line--dark and bold. It'll be interesting to see where this one leads...

Now I've got homework to do, an upside down drawing of an owl. Before I go, though, I will leave you with the right side up version of my bird.

Oh, just a note about karate--some of you may remember a week or so ago when I posted about the blue belt who'd opened his own dojo. Not to sound like I'm gloating or anything, but two of his three students now attend OUR dojo. They visited once, and decided they wanted to join that same night. They said, "This is the REAL stuff!" And wouldn't you know it, she is already in love with them. Let's see, how many does that make in a year's time...James, Justin, Josh, Brian, Barrett (his being married didn't stop her), Brandon, Twinkie, Chachi, Randy, and now these two, and I have a sneaking suspicion that there's been a little bit of a crush on sensei and Mr Tedder. There is really something wrong with that girl...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One Year Ago

today, I picked up a drawing pencil for the first time. And this is what I drew.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner, by Claire Watson Garcia.

I've only just read the first part, up to the first drawing assignment. I don't think I'm going to like this book. First of all, the list of junk I gotta buy takes up a whole page, two columns! What ever happened to pencil and paper? Oh, and the paper she wants you to use is Strathmore 400 series 80 lb drawing paper for light washes and dry media. It is very good quality paper, but waaayyyy too expensive for beginners to mess up on. Anyway, after looking at the materials list, and how much the stuff costs, I decided to just stick with what I have on hand. Until I get to the lesson that calls for watercolor paint. PAINT???? I thought this was a DRAWING book!

Ok, so I get to the first drawing exercise. To do it, I have to go buy a spool of 24 gauge galvanized steel wire so I can get 15" of it for this lesson. Which means I either have the remainder of a spool of wire that I will never use cluttering up my house, or else I throw the rest of the wire in the garbage--throwing away money. After I get my 15" of wire, I have to bend it into a squiggly shape and draw it. I do this three times, drawing once with pencil and twice with pen. Which means I have to buy expensive drawing pens. Or I'm supposed to...

Now, I'm supposed to draw this wire with a dark, bold line. Sketching lightly, according to Ms. Garcia, is a sign of a timid artist. This flies in the face of everything I have ever read about drawing. I've always heard that you start sketching lightly, in case you have to erase, then build up your darker values until you have your finished product. I for one, am not going to rough out a drawing with dark, bold lines. It is almost impossible to erase them, and if you do get them erased, you most certainly damage your paper.

I decided to skip this exercise.

So far, I don't think much of Ms. Claire Watson Garcia.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Babies

Here they are, the new babies:

This one is the female bloodred. She will be mostly solid red when she is grown. It'll be interesting to watch her grow. I'll be sure and post periodic updates on her coloration.

This one is the male amel het lav. He's not likely to change colors too much, just get bigger. I held them both briefly today, then fed them. They seemed so tiny compared to Sunset and Snow, who are both getting close to two years old. And they both ate their pinkies like champs. That is a load off my mind. The only one I've ever had trouble getting to eat is Sunset, and wouldn't you know, he's still my most difficult feeder.

I've spent most of today watching DVDs and knitting. I watched Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris. A very good old movie starring Angela Lansbury and Omar Sharif. The rest of the afternoon was occupied with the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Lazy Day

I really like this shot of the spillway and the old bridge across it. I don't know why, it just appeals to me. In the old days, you could actually drive across that bridge, but they've since closed it off. It was only wide enough for one car at a time.

Today has been a totally lazy day. I spent most of the day working on my Webshots albums. I uploaded a few new pictures, including more pictures of Snow shedding. I did get out and pick these, the last of the daffodils for the year. These are a cultivated variety called Easter Bonnet that I planted several years ago when I was into gardening. I sometimes wish I still had the time and enthusiasm for gardening. There is nothing so beautiful as a garden in full bloom.

Friday, March 17, 2006

They're Here!

The baby snakes got here right on time yesterday.

This is the little bloodred. She doesn't look very red right now, but as she grows, she'll get a bit redder with every shed. I'm calling her Garnet for now. I don't know if it'll stick or not. It sounds too harsh for such a sweet little girl. I'll get better pictures of her when she's settled in a bit.

This one is an amelanistic with the recessive gene for lavendar. He doesn't have a name yet, but I'll be sure and post when I've named him. He seems a bit bolder than the bloodred, but I'm still giving him a proper settling in period.

I'd forgotten just how tiny hatchlings can be. They are both about as big around as a pencil. That is great, because I already have pinkies in the freezer. And fuzzies, and hoppers, and weanlings, and adults. Heck, I won't have to buy mice for these for a year!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Difference Between Men and Women

Today was the day for our semi annual dental visit. Not one of our favorite days. Jennifer, the hygenist, came and got me, and Cody was waiting in the waiting room. Dr Moody didn't have any patients, so he decided to clean Cody's teeth himself so we could get out of there faster. I heard him tell Cody that we'd be done about the same time.


About halfway through my cleaning, Cody came into the room where I was. I asked him if he was done already and he responded that he was. I looked at Jennifer and said, "We talk too much."

That's the difference between men and women. Cody and Dr. Moody got in there and got his teeth cleaned and checked and were done. Jennifer and I talked. About work, our kids, horns and antlers (she didn't know the difference), who's been sick, who's gone on vacation, how tall Cody has gotten, how tall Dr. Moody's son has gotten, etc., etc. No wonder it took us so long.

Been reading my Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner--hereafter referred to as DAUB--but have not gotten to any drawing projects yet.

Three of my snakes have shed since Friday. I got to see Snow shed for the first time. I've seen Onyx shed many times, and Sunset once, but this is the first time I ever saw Snow shed.

First the head sheds,

Then the middle part of the body is wriggled out of, turning the old skin inside out, much like peeling off a pair of socks.

Finally the tail pops off, and she is done.
The she looks at me as if she were saying, "Am I beautiful, or what?"

Yes, Snow, you are gorgeous.

I got an e-mail saying my two new snakes have been shipped and should be here by 10:30 tomorrow morning. I've given Cody a boatload of instructions on what to do when they arrive. He's like, "yes, mom, I know what to do already!" I'll hardly be able to sleep tonight! So I'd better head for bed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Is It Really The Money?

This talking about movies has put me in mind of a magazine article I read recently. In this article, a man was proposing a new movie rating system which, unlike Hollywood's current system, doesn't assume that morality is just for kids. This new rating system will take into account whether a movie meets a certain moral standard, then will give an appropriate age range for the movie. His own production company would be making movies that meet the code, yet still be entertaining. The article went into quite a bit of detail, but came to the conclusion that if Hollywood sees moral movies making money, it will start making more of them.

Somehow I doubt it.

Family friendly movies have grossed more money than any other types of movies, but does Hollywood care about that? No. Just look at the Oscar nominees for best picture this year. Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck (had to get McCarthyism in there somehow), Crash, and Munich. They all pretty much bombed at the box office. In fact, none of those 5 movies even made it into the top 40 highest grossing films of 2005.

The top moneymaking film of 2005 was Star Wars III--Revenge of the Sith. Did it receive any Oscar nominations? Not that I've heard. Of course, I don't pay all that much attention to the Oscars anymore anyway, given the fiasco that it's become. The five Best Picture nominees put together only grossed about half of what Star Wars did.

The top 15 money making movies of 2005 are:

  • Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    War of the Worlds
    King Kong
    Wedding Crashers
    Charlie and the Chocolate
    Batman Begins
    Mr. & Mrs. Smith
    The Longest Yard
    Fantastic Four
    Chicken Little

(A Question of Taste, by Andrew Coffin, World Magazine, Vol. 21, Number 7, Issue date Feb 18, 2006)

Only one of those movies is rated R. Yet only one of those movies, that I know of, received any Oscar nominations at all. That was The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It received some technical category nominations, but I don't know if it won any. That was a good movie, too.

Around here, "Planet Hollywood" refers to more than just a restaurant.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Very Dull Day

It has been a very dull day today. In fact, I have nothing to post about.

I've been forgetting to post my weight these last few weeks. Today it was still at 130'. I was rather proud of myself this morning. I got up and did all my empty hand kata, and one of my weapons kata. I was sweating before I even got to work.

Cody is home on spring break this week, so I rented him some movies to keep himself occupied. I rented:

  • Sky High--not bad, surprisingly
  • Superman--yes, the one with Christopher Reeve, Cody had never seen it
  • Free Willy 3--The last one they made, thank goodness, they were getting worse as they went on
  • Flintstones Christmas Carol--didn't get to see it over Christmas because our tape messed up
  • Operation Dumbo Drop--embarrassing to admit, but I cried

and for myself: Emma--I love this movie so much that the first time I saw it, I decided to start calling everyone Mr or Mrs.

If you've never seen Operation Dumbo Drop, I highly recommend it. It was a whole lot better than I expected. I thought it would be something ridiculously silly like Larger Than Life, in which Bill Murray plays a character who inherits his father's circus elephant, then has to transport it cross country somehow. It is still a good movie, but ridiculously silly in spots. ODD was nothing like this. It was very realistic, and I blubbered like a baby in one spot. I won't say what it was because it is a spoiler. But try it, you'll like it. It is a good, mostly clean family movie with only a couple of profanities in it, no sex, and very little violence--considering it takes place during the Vietnam conflict.

Well, for someone with nothing to post about, I've rambled on quite a bit. I'm going to go watch The Donald now and start on my new drawing book: Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner. I'll post the exercises as I get them done.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Evening

I finally finished this exercise from Drawing for Dummies. It took me about a month to do it. The actual drawings didn't take that long, only a couple of hours each. It was just motivating myself to sit down and do them that took so long. These are facial features of babies. The little nose was actually the hardest to draw. The others turned out better than I expected. The next project in the book is to draw a baby, but I think I'm going to set that book aside and work on Drawing For The Absolute and Utter Beginner, by Claire Watson Garica.

Oh, I finally got my art test back from Art Instruction Schools. I made a 98 out of a possible score of 100. A representative from the school is supposed to be contacting me sometime in the near future.

I spent most of the weekend getting the tanks set up for my new little friends that should be arriving sometime next week. So there's really not much to tell.

I've had a moth invasion in my house. I don't know where they came from, but I can't bomb the house because of my snakes. I tried spraying some wasp killer in the laundry room where they seem to be congregating and closing the door. Maybe that'll take care of them.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Got Camera Happy

First off, the good news. I took Cody to the doctor, and he has TWO illnesses. Bronchitis and a stomach virus. Thus, the second fever was from a different thing, not a relapse of his first illness. Nor was it something more serious. Now he has medicine for both--antibiotic for the bronchitis, and anti-diahrreal/nausea medicine for the virus. But the good doctor told me to try an OTC medicine for the viral symptoms before getting the perscription filled. So, I bought him the old standby, Pepto Bismol. Ok, I got the generic, but the wierd thing was, the 16 oz. bottle was the same price as the 12 oz. bottle. Guess which one I got.

As luck would have it, I'd already had vacation scheduled for today because there is a karate tournament tomorrow. Needless to say, we won't be making this tournament. (We have to take vacation on Friday or Monday to get Saturday off.) So after we came home from the doctor, I grabbed my camera and went for a little tour of my yard.

My yard? With all the rain we've had, I should say my lake. Here it is, Lake Riverdale:

Some years it rains so much, I have a front lake and a back lake. Just a front lake so far this year.

The daffodils are in full bloom all over the place,

so I had to pick a few to make this lovely bouquet.

While picking said flowers, this little beauty and I surprised each other.

This is a checkered garter--an adult about two feet long and almost as big around as a quarter. If you look closely enough, you can see an old scar on its back. The coloration on its sides was absolutely gorgeous, and this pic doesn't nearly do it justice.

Not quite so lovely, but beautiful in its own way, is this old deer skull, complete with rack, that the dogs have drug up:

We have a lake in town, Grenada Lake. It is not a natural lake, but a reservoir, and part of the system of reservoirs built to help control flooding in the Yalobusha river system. The water in the winter and early spring is very low, and you can actually see the remains of the road that was covered when the dam was built.

Being a reservoir, it of course, has a spillway. On any given day, there will be people fishing there. A beautiful day like today was no exception.

This is a type of ornamental pear tree. They are all over this town and in the early spring are covered with these beautiful white flowers.

Unfortunately, my histamines view these as the enemy, and I will be absolutely miserable until the flowers die back.

Then comes plowing season...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sporadic Sketching

Sketching will likely be sporadic for a while. I've got to study for my shodan test. I don't know how much technical stuff they will ask me, but I'd better be ready.

Cody is sick again. I just took his temp and it is over 100'. Sounds like a trip to the doctor is in order in the morning. Next week is spring break, so he'll have a nice long while to recover from whatever he's got.

This little beauty will be on her way to me sometime next week...

And when she is grown, she'll look something like this:


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


If you ever drive at night, you know the phenomenon. Owls swooping down in front of your car. It's been said that they are snapping at insects they see in the beams of your headlights. It can be a very un nerving experience. And it can be heartbreaking when the owl misjudges.

I was in high school. I wasn't one of the popular kids.

There was a guy named Tim. He was one of the popular kids. Good looking, football player, senior.

A year older than me.

Everyone called him Mad Stork, though I never found out why.

Tim was telling some of his friends how he had struck and killed an owl the night before while driving down a dimly lit road.

"It was so beautiful," he said. "It made me sick that I killed it. It just came out of nowhere and hit my windshield. There was nothing I could do." He was truly upset over it.

"Wow," I thought. "I'd have never thought someone like him would care so much about a bird."

My level of respect for Tim went way up that day.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


This sketch turned out so bad, I'm almost embarassed to post it. Drawing a lion is harder than I thought it would be.

As many of you know, I work in a factory. It is very noisy in there, and sometimes that leads to miscommunications. For example, one time I heard a co-worker say, "Next time you barbeque, I need some wine." But what he really said was, "Next time you see Shelly Cupit, I need some {brazing} rod." Another time, I heard someone ask me, "Are you using your pliers?" I responded, "No". But what she had really asked me was, "Can I use your pliers?" No wonder she gave me that look. Today, Dana stood straight up and said, "I need some chitlins!" I said, "NOBODY needs chitlins!" But what she really said was, "I need some chocolate."

EVERYBODY needs chocolate.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunday Night

My little man fixed me breakfast in bed this morning. I think it's the first time in my life I've ever had breakfast in bed, except when I was sick.

I finally turned my attention to that dreaded annual chore, doing my taxes. State taxes are easy. They only took about 5 minutes. It is federal taxes that give me a headache. I'm getting a fair bit back though. And hopefully we'll get enough overtime this year that I won't have to take it all back out of savings.

Our tax dollars at work:

Saturday, March 04, 2006

My Little Handyman

Cody put our new end table together all by himself. He kept asking for the duct tape....

Friday, March 03, 2006


This is Mason. Mason is 9 years old. He is one of those kids that nobody likes. I kinda want to feel sorry for him, but he's just soooo annoying that I almost feel like he deserves it. Recently, he's decided that he wants to hang out with me and James before class. It doesn't set too well with us, but I'm trying to be nice. He makes it hard, though. Last night, James and I were sitting out in the lobby of the dojo. Mason came out and said (and I am NOT making this up), "James, I have a sexual problem I need you to help me with." James and I both nearly fell out of our chairs. Then Mason continued, "My girlfriend dumped me bigtime. She said she felt uncomfortable." I was so flabbergasted that I don't even remember what happened next.
I didn't have time to print out any reference photos, so I sketched this vase from imagination.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Corn Flakes

I couldn't figure out how to make the milk look like milk, though.

My box of snake supplies came in today. I already have Slider his new, secure screen top on his tank, and I feel much better about it. We're supposed to be off Saturday, so I hope to get Sunset and Onyx's tanks cleaned. I'll also get the empty tank cleaned out and set up. My rats should be here tomorrow, so I'll try to get Slider to eat. He hasn't eaten since we got him, but that's only been about three weeks. That's not long for a snake to go without feeding, and he should be good and hungry. Hopefully, he'll be hungry enough to eat a frozen rat--well, thawed and reheated, that is.

Karate was interesting tonight. Something has gotten my allergies so stirred up, I've been itching and sneezing my head off all day. Before karate, I went to the Family Dollar store and got some non-drowsy antihistamine. It didn't make me drowsy, but it did make me pretty silly. The sorry thing was, it didn't even work that well. It is supposed to be a 24 hour pill, and I'm already getting drippy and itchy again.

Joshua told me he had wanted to call me, but didn't have my number. He has it now. If I am off Saturday, Josh, James and I are going to go work out. I may call Sally and see if she wants to come, too.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Not Bad

for ten minutes work. I think I'm getting better. I did run out of time before I finished the top apple, though.

Sensei shocked us all last night before class. We were lined up bowing in, and he was making anouncements. He said that James would be testing for shodan at the spring seminar in Greenville. That's probably going to be in April or May. That was no surprise. What WAS a surprise was that he said I'd probably be testing with him. ACK!!! I'm not ready. He said I was. According to Sensei, I just lack confidence in my bunkai. Under my breath, I added, "and my sparring, and my self defense, and weapons..." He said we had time to get all that ready. But I'm already so nervous, I've given myself a gastric condition. Ok, Ok, the runs...

I also need to finish my essay. I've got a good start on it, but it isn't finished. Here is what I have written so far:

What Karate Means to Me

In July 1989, when I was about to graduate from Navy Boot camp, my company commander said something to me that I have never forgotten. She said, "You will never be a civilian again." At the time, I was thinking, “yeah, right,” but as more and more time passed by, I began to see the truth in her words. I am no longer in the military, but neither am I a civilian again. I am a Veteran.
Being in the military produced a profound change in my life. I see things differently, through the eyes of a Veteran. I experience things differently, with a military mindset. I think differently, both from the way I thought before my military experience and from the way those who have never served in the military think. My entire life experience has been colored by my time in the service. Being in the military during a wartime situation (the first Gulf War) changed me even further. But I won't get into war politics here...
Being involved in the martial arts has affected me in much the same way. It has completely transformed me, and my way of thinking, feeling, and perceiving the world. Karate, to me, is not a sport, hobby, nor simply a way to get some exercise, though getting exercise is the primary reason I began training. Karate has become a way of life. It has transformed me into a completely different person.

(I want to personalize this paragraph a bit more, telling how karate has affected ME in the ways mentioned here.) There are those who "take karate", and then there are those who become Martial Artists. "Karate lessons" may teach you self-defense, and how to fight, but Martial Arts teaches you a whole lot more. It changes your entire way of thinking and of perceiving the world. Martial Arts infuse your life, and you see everything through the eyes of a Martial Artist. It can even change the way you experience emotion. Martial Artists tend to experience things in life less timidly, and less fearfully, but without the false bravado of "toughness".

I guess the long and the short of it is: karate is not something I do. It is who I have become. It is an attitude I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And it is something non-martial artists just don't understand.

After class, Pee Wee and I were IMing. He was telling me about a new dojo that recently opened up in town. It is called Integrated Martial Arts. The guy teaching it has combined elements of Tae Kwan Do, kenpo, and jujitsu. No biggie there, that is often how new styles develop, including Isshinryu. But the more we talked, the more flabbergasted I became. Turns out the guy never actually trained in kenpo. He learned what he knows from watching a video. HUH???? Then I found out that he trained in TKD under Tommy McRee. He is a local who is notorious for opening a dojo, then closing it a year or two later. So if this guy trained under TM, he didn't train for very long. I don't know how long he trained in jujitsu. Then the real jaw dropper came when Pee Wee told me that this guy, who has developed his own "style" and opened his own dojo, is a BLUE BELT!!! That is barely started! That is like having someone with a 6th grade education teaching school! (Though the way our schools are, that would not surprise me a bit.) I got my blue belt after only 5 months of training, and this guy feels qualified to TEACH! And he actually has some students. I couldn't believe it. I said, "If they are fool enough to pay a blue belt to teach them..."


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