Monday, July 31, 2006

Wonky Nex

My connection is still being wonky, so today I called Bellsouth. After what seemed an interminable wait, I finally spoke with a very softspoken female technician with an Asian accent. While on the phone with her, I remembered this little ditty that I read online a few weeks ago (I can't remember where I read it, or I'd give due credit):

Speaking with a service technician--good
Speaking with a service technician who speaks English--better
Speaking with a service technician who speaks English with an accent you can understand--PRICELESS!

Actually, this lady's accent wasn't too terribly bad. If only I could have gotten her to speak a little louder, I'd have understood her quite well.

Unfortunately, we were unable to solve my problem, so a tech is supposed to come out and look at my lines and such. My appointment is for tomorrow, sometime between one and five PM. Good thing I'd already taken the day off.

I have to take Cody up to the school in the morning to get his badge and pay his student fees. (This free public education gets more expensive every year.) Since his last name begins with an A, we have to go between 8 and 10 AM. Where I work, that constitutes about half the day, so I just took a vacation day.

After that, we are going to look at trailer houses again. Ok, what's going on is this: I still have had no luck finding just the right piece of land. Some of you may know, though most of you do not, I live in a trailer house parked on my cousin's land. A few months ago, rumor was going around the paper mill where my cousin's husband works that they were going to offer people of a certain age bracket early retirement. If they did, J was going to take it since he falls within that age group. Then they were going to move back to Texas where most of the family lives, including my aunt and uncle, and J's parents. That, along with the general state of disrepair of my current home, prompted a search for land and a new trailer house.

Last week, J and I were talking about my house in general, its poor condition, and my search for land, and he said,

"Did you ever think about just putting a new house where that one is sitting?"

Well, yeah, that would be my first choice, but with the early retirement thing blah blah blah...He then told me that he hadn't heard any more about it, so I could plan on them staying for a little while longer. He did put out some feelers at work, and came up empty, as well. Soooo today he went and talked to the city manager, who said it shouldn't be a problem to replace my current eyesore with a brand new home and referred J to the zoning officer, who also said it shouldn't be a problem. Tomorrow after getting Cody fixed up, we are going to go fill out the necessary forms and papers, then stop by the mobile home place and look at some houses. J is going with me because, for one, since it's his land, he may have to sign the papers as well, and two, to discuss the technical aspects of the house with the dealer. He was telling me to make sure it has this, and don't get that and telling me all about heat pumps and thus and so...

Though I can remember the exact date my electricity was turned on in my current house (September 18, 1995), I can't remember any of what he told me an hour and a half ago.

Isn't that wierd? Well, no it really isn't. That's just the difference in the way women's and men's minds work.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bitty


Bitty is finished, and though she was fun to draw, manga/anime just isn't my thng. Now it's time to start on the next lesson "A Fish Called Wanda".

We've had a bit of a setback with Slider. He shed yesterday, and today I offered him a scented rat, which he refused. Now, it may be that he just wasn't hungry since rats contain more fat and nutrition than mice and take longer to digest. I'll give him another week or two and try again.

Onyx shed today, and that ends the latest blues fest.

Now, for the pink scarf I posted a couple of days ago, well, I was almost finished with it and decided that it was too short and too wide. It didn't really need a seed stitch AND a garter stitch border. So I started over. It looks a lot better this time, and is knitting up even faster.

My connection is being really wonky these last few days. Since I've only had DSL a month, I don't know how much dropping is normal. I'm about ready to call Bellsouth and give them a piece of my mind.

Friday, July 28, 2006

In Progress



A drawing of an anime child from a lesson on Drawspace.com. She is about half done. I'm not much into anime myself, but Cody is really good at it. Here is one he drew about a year ago.


And finally, a new scarf I've started. This pattern is called staggered fern lace. It is also about half done. It'll look better once it's washed and blocked.

I'm going to go take a nice hot bath, then knit a bit more. I was at work this morning and a co-worker of mine, Sue, asked me seemingly out of the blue,

"Are you sleepy?"

When I replied that I was, she said, "You look it." As we were lining up to clock out at then end of the day, she said, "You still look sleepy!" So I'm going to try to get to bed a little earlier tonight. I always say that, but never seem to have much luck accomplishing it.

I've also got two snakes to feed, so I'd best get cracking!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's One of Those Days...


When I can't think of anything to say. So I'll just leave you with a couple of pictures.

Weeds

The Neighbor's Dog


Sweet Gum Leaf

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Road Trip

The trip for the most part was uneventful, though there was a lot of construction going on. Bu the scenery was pleasant, and the sky fairly overcase. I only got a few sprinkles, but Scott and Cody got rained on quite a bit during their half of the trip.


I-55 South towards Hammond, La


Cody is glad to be home, but not looking forward to school starting in two weeks. It's a shame. School--learning--should be fun. I don't know why school has to be so unpleasant.

He said, "Why do trips seem so short?" The same reasons days off do....



A couple of days ago while I was taking my evening walk, I stumbled upon this little creature sunning himself by the side of the road. It was only through careful and patient stalking that I was able to get close enough to snap this quick picture. I think this is an Alligator plasticus smalli. They are commonly found near water, and often in the company of soapy bubbles.


We are going through another minor blues fest here at the snake house. Snow and Scarlett have both shed--Snow on Sunday, and Scarlett this evening. Onyx and Slider are both blue. Well, that's four out of seven, I guess it's not so minor.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and that includes this day off. Gotta head back to work tomorrow, so I'd better head for bed...

Welding


(Ok, so I'm not really a welder. I'm a brazer, but this is the closest I could find.)


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Remember?

Do you remember this post? And the follow up to it here? Guess what someone on the Cornsnake forum posted? This petition to stop Petco from selling rodents as feeders! Some of the comments are pretty wacked out. I would just point out, though, to some of the posters this: If you are trying to make a point, you'll sound SOOOOO much more intelligent (read: like you know what you're talking about) if you use correct spelling and grammar. noitning wil kill ur case mor than utyping lik this wen tryinog to prestne a pont it really amases and amuses me when grown peepul feel lik they need to type like childrne

I'm off on a mini road trip tomorrow. Cody has been at his grandma's for the last two weeks, and I'm going to pick him up. My brother is bringing him halfway, to Hammond, La. I'd better get to bed, then. I don't want to fall asleep at the wheel!

Monday, July 24, 2006

About Self Defense

When learning self defense, it may seem dull and repetitious, and yes, downright boring going over and over the same moves again and again. But it is vitally essential to do this.

It is easy to break a hold when it is done slowly and without much force. It is easy to decide what to do when nothing is on the line.

It's a completely different story when it's your life you are fighting for . When you are grabbed for real, all those carefully planned moves go right out the window and you are just scrambling for techniques that work. When your life is at stake, you'd better hope you've retained enough of what you've learned that you can do something. Anything.

There is an old saying that goes

You never rise to the occasion. You sink to your level of training.

It is sooo true. So train hard.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Encore


An encore of Saturday Sky. Actually this is Sunday sky, but the sky was so pretty today I had to get a shot.

Some of you may be wondering if I am finally through talking about my shodan test.

Not hardly.

There have been other tests before. There will be other tests in the future. But none will be quite so significant as this one. Passing from the kyu ranks to the dan ranks is a momentous occasion. A rite of passage, like passing from childhood to adulthood.

And such a thing is not so easily dismissed.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday Sky And Reading Material




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. It has completely transformed me, and my way of thinking, feeling, and perceiving the world. 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 see things differently— through the eyes of a Martial Artist. I experience things differently—with a Martial mindset. I think differently—both from the way I thought before my experience in the Martial Arts and from the way those who have never trained in a Martial Art think. In the paragraphs that follow are some of my thoughts on what karate has meant to me.
When I first began training, our dojo was in sensei's shop. His garage, if you will. It had no air conditioning in the summer. The humidity was always very high. All I had to do was walk into the dojo, and my hair would start to curl. It made for some pretty miserable workouts.
The dojo had a very small, and not very efficient, wood heater in the winter. It didn't cast heat more than an arm's length away. There are no bonds like those formed by huddling with your fellow karate ka in a two foot space of warmth trying to keep from freezing. It didn’t always work. Many a time I left class in January and February unable to feel my feet because they were so cold.
There were two red wasps that lived somewhere in the building. Their names were George and Laura. It seems they wanted to learn karate also because they were always out and about while classes were going on. Nothing teaches you focus like concentrating on performing a kata while red wasps are closely inspecting your face, especially if you’re allergic to them. Then you know that you not only have to deal with the discomfort of being stung, but also with three days of pure Hell as your body reacts to the venom.
But through all of that, I learned to push myself beyond what I thought was physically possible. To keep going when I really wanted to quit. To reach deep inside myself and find strength I didn’t know I had. To find the discipline to show up for class when I really wanted to just stay home. I really miss that old dojo. I developed a lot of character there.
As a child, I was not raised in a home that encouraged trying new things. In fact, the pravailing attitude was quite the opposite. My parents’ philosophy was, “You’d better not try anything new, because if you fail, you might be embarrassed,” as if being embarassed was the worst thing in the world that could happen to you. I carried that attitude in to my adult years, and even into the dojo as a white belt. Yet little by little, through sensei’s encouragement and his belief in me, I began to believe in myself. With each small accomplishment, with each little thing that I learned to do, and learned to do well, I began to find it within myself to try bigger and more difficult things. As I learned more and more, and was successful more and more my attitude shifted. I no longer whined, “I can’t”, rather, I began to believe, “Yes, I can!” I can do things right. I can do things well. I can learn new things. So my confidence has grown. I now have the strength and the courage to face unknown situations, and to try new things. And if people laugh at me, well, they’ll get over it.
Recently, I had to get a rather uncomfortable medical screening. You know how the doctors or nurses always say. “this won’t hurt a bit”, but then it hurts like the blazes? I knew I was in trouble when the technician said, “This is going to hurt.” She was right. But I stayed calm and relaxed during the entire screening, as painful as it was. When it was all over, she said to me, “Girl, you are as tough as a pine knot, because I know that had to hurt.” Although I didn’t say it aloud, my thought was, “I have to be. I’m testing for shodan in less than a month.” What the technician didn’t realize, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it until afterward, was that throughout the whole procedure, I was performing Sanchin kata in my mind. I didn’t plan on mentally rehearsing the kata. It just happened. This is the depth to which Isshinryu has become a part of my life.
About six months after I started training, a co-worker of mine asked me if I was finished with my “karate lessons.” When I told her no, she replied, “You mean you haven’t learned it yet?” I just smiled and said no, knowing she would never understand. True Martial Arts is not like it is in the Karate Kid movies. You can’t train for 6 weeks and know it all. Martial Arts is a lifelong persuit, yet you can train a lifetime and still not know everything there is to know about karate. I don’t know what my future holds, or what my future in the dojo will turn out to be. But I do know that I can no longer imagine my life without karate being a part of it somehow, even when I am past the point where I can participate physically. It has become a part of me, and will always be so. There are those who "take karate", and then there are those who become Martial Artists. "Karate lessons" may teach you self-defense, self-control, 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. It becomes a part of your life. Being a Martial Artist has become a part of who I am, and what I am. It defines who I have become. Martial Arts is not just something I do. It is an attitude I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It has become a way of life for me. And that is something non-Martial Artists will never fully understand.

Friday, July 21, 2006

There's Not a Word Yet

For old friends who've just met.

The internet is a wonderful thing. I have had such love and support given me over the last week from people I've never even met. Though I've only met a few of the following women in person, I feel like they are my family.

From Carole to the list:

Becky,

Congratulations again on making Shodan in such a wither-resistant way. As Sunshine has stated, this testing is unlike anything I have seen, as well. Most people, in general, could not stand up to the scrutiny. I think it can bring out the best in someone, and you are no exception. We saw you fight through the sweat, the oppressive heat (I think it was about 100degrees outside, and that felt "breezy" -- so figure maybe 120 degrees inside for the testing -- no a/c or windows, and 2 large fans to move the heat around) and the stares of 5 high ranking dans (who did their best to distract you, either by simply standing closeby while you were testing, or actively pelting you with their fists, feet or bodies), and you have the makings of a shodan test worthy of one being tested. Well done, Becky. Rei!

Linde, as always a pleasure to be around and hear the goings on in IR, from both a personal and historical standpoint. Experience is earned, and you share and give your heart and soul everytime we are together.

Sherry, a pint size ball of fun. You were always smiling and laughing, and found positive things to say at every turn. I had to crane my neck to talk to you most of the time because we were in different parts of Becky's truck, but you always made it worthwhile to chat.

Sunshine...speaking of chat, I can't think of anyone who is more observant of everything going on around her, and willing to share what is on your mind. I loved hearing what you had to say, because it simply reminded me of what I had missed, and I hope that when I grow up (although I have been told that at my age I no longer have to grow up), that I have the same humility and curiosity about life as you do.It was a memorable weekend, by far. Thank you ladies for being such an important part of it.

Carole


From Sherry to the list:


We should be all proud of Becky because of the courage and strength she showed in front of all those high ranking dans as well as all the other people stuffed into that extremely hot box of a room. I am grateful that she let us share the experience with her. I was with her all the way in every kata, step, kick, punch and block, holding my breath until she finished each part of her rank test, man that was tiring. Becky is unbelievable! I think I would have fainted because Lord knows that it was hard just standing there, sweating, holding my breath and going though it with you in my mind.

Becky and Carole, I really enjoyed meeting you and sharing a great weekend. I didn’t feel like we were strangers at all, just friends we hadn’t met yet. I felt so comfortable around the two of you even though it was the first time actually meeting. Both of you are amazing, inspirational and fun. Linde Sensei is always a pleasure to be around because I feel like when I am around her I know that I will learn from her life experience and wisdom and she’s funny. Sunshine knows that she is like a daughter to me and her being there to ride with me, get lost with me, and laugh with me just added to the experience.

Becky, once again, CONGRATULATIONS for making shodan and overcoming any and all obstacles that may have been in your way reaching this milestone in life. Thank you for allowing me to experience it with you; it was an honor.

Sherry

From Claudia:

Just wanted to wish you a very hearty congratulations again. and to thank you for posting a picture!

From Christa:


I must have thought about you 2 dozen times on Friday and even more on Saturday. Thanks for blazing the trail and an inspiration to women like me who are new to karate. It gives me hope that someday I'll be able to pass that rank test like you have. I would have liked to be there in person, but I was cheering you on in spirit over here in Texas. So if you heard a faint, "Way to go Becky!" echoing across Louisiana, that was me being excited about your success! =) We are all proud of you!

Wholeheartedly, Christa


From Linde to the list:

This past weekend was great. It was such an honor to be a Becky's test. For us to get to fight her on the test was even better. I wish I had got to spend more time with everyone but the short visit was great. Carol is always a joy to be around. I kept thinking how one person really encouraged her thus she became the encouragement for another. Sherry is always so full life and makes up be up just being around her. Sunshine I am so lucky to have you as a friend. Everytime I see you I know that the future of Isshin ryu is in good hands. We also got to meet several fun and inspiring ladies of Isshin ryu in Mississippi. Diane was one of them and hopefully several others including Lisa , the new ni-dan will join our list soon. Well the 855 miles are beginning to show on my body so I will call it a night. Big HUG


My response to Christa:

Thank you Christa. I'm just following in the footsteps of the wonderfully inspiring women on this list--Linde, Claudia, Dianne, Sandi and the rest of the ones I consider pioneers in the world of Martial arts. If not for them, I don't know if I would have made it here. You WILL make it here one day. As my karate-mom Carole told me, just keep showing up. You'll get there if you just keep showing up. And when you get there, I'll be sending that faint, "Way to to Christa!" back across Louisiana to
you.

Becky/MS

From Mary:

I was thinking of you Becky. Glad to see the photo and Congratulations!!!!!!! Yipee! It is so cool that you women from this group make the trip to go see you - that is soooo awesome! Mary


From Becky/AL:

Wahoo, way to go Becky!!!!

becky/AL

From Margie:

Congratulations!!!!

Margie



From Ann:

Congrats! Aw3esome!!!

From Annie:

Congrats Becky, You have earned it! Annie

And finally, here are a few private messages eschanged between Sherry, Carole, Linde, and Myself:


My response to Linde and the ladies to a message posted on the blog yesterday:

Linde, It was an honor for me to have you there. Don't worry about Sat night. You didn't put a damper on anything. I didn't really feel like going anywhere else anyway, though I would have liked to sit and visit a little more. Well, there's always next time. I'm just glad you're ok and made it home safely. I'll tell you this, though.
I've never driven that hilly, twisty road quite so fast as I did then!

Sunshine it was so good to meet you in person finally, and I'm glad you decided to spar me! I don't think either of us will forget that!

Sherry, you are a joy! I am so privileged to count you among my friends, and humbled that you would come all this way, and nearly pass yourself out for someone you don't even know! (Note: Every time I got up to do something for my test, Sherry would hold her breath and tense up until I was done. She nearly passed out a couple of times! And before the test, she was the one whose hands were shaking!)

And Carole, my karate mom! Sorry I wasn't better company for you. Next time I will be. Thank you for the truly special gift you gave me. The foot has bruised up quite nicely and is rather stiff, but I don't think it is broken. I don't know how that happened. I think it was in the self defense. Petco didn't open until 10, so Onyx is still in the dark, but he'll get over it.

Thank all of you for being here for me.

Love you all,

Becky

And Carole's response:

Hi y'all.

Becky, It was an honor and privilege to be there with you. I can't thank you enough for making me feel so welcome in our home ... oops, I mean your home. You were great during your testing, fighting all the way. Most people would wither under that kind of scrutiny (whether it was 120 degrees or not!). I'm proud of you (karate daughter), and I know you will continue to make your sensei proud. In answer to your notes below (or Sherry, is that above, or next, well, you know what I mean): you're welcome, and you too were good company!! We chatted, had our snacks and
watched our movies together...what more could a girl want?

Sherry, Not bad looking for a 45yr old elderly woman hahahaha You are young at heart and spirit. It was fun sharing time with you and getting to know you a bit
better (now to go back and read some of your posts...to see what I've really been missing)...which brings me to

Sunshine, As I said in our parting on Saturday, it was indeed a pleasure spending time with you. You are SOOO observant...makes me want to take a closer look around me...I will indeed IM you one of these days, if only to say Hi and Bye (is that ok???).

Linde, Always a pleasure. You have so much knowledge and background that we want to hear about, there WILL be a next time. Hope you're feeling better. You
gutted it out throughout the testing, and even sparred. Oh, sometimes the price we must pay to do the things we want.

Love you all, ladies. Thanks for a memorable weekend.

Carole

From Sherry:

Becky,
It was so great to meet you and Carol. Now when I read your emails I hear your voice and see your face. I was so very proud of you Saturday. You did so well. I really did get fatigued and felt exhausted after your test I guess because I was so nervous for you and stopped breathing every time you went up for anything, but you did wonderfully and I congratulate you from the heart.

I am sorry that we (Sunshine and I) did not stay longer, but I had to get back. I decided to leave early because I was so tired. I had just been getting over having strep throat, drove there right after work on Friday, couldn’t sleep well that night (too excited I guess), and was really fatigued by the end of your test and taking
care of Linde (we didn’t have to do much, but I was very worried about her).

Thank you for giving us the honor of coming to your rank test. I enjoyed meeting you and Carol. You guys (you and Carol) are great and I am looking forward to seeing you again sometime.

Once again, CONGRATULATIONS!!

Another from Sherry:

It was an honor to be there. Thank you for letting us share that special moment when you passed your rank test and became shodan—I felt like crying. You performed so well and I know that the women on this list are all proud of you as am I. You know, a real strange thing is that I felt like I had worked out and had some soreness in some muscles and all I did was stand around! I think it is because of holding my breath every time you went up and tightening my muscles as if I were doing it with you. I was exhausted after you did Sanchin! Also, thank you for lending me your son’s gi—I’m glad that we wear the same size. And Linde Sensei, thank you for lending me your extra obi. I’m so scatter brain sometimes and when I got home, there it was hanging near where I had put my overnight bag all set to go with my sports bra and obi. I hate being so forgetful, but even though it was your time and you were probably nervous, you still were kind enough to offer your son’s gi. And with Linde Sensei also coming to the rescue with her obi as well, I didn’t have to look like I was being a complete doofus. You two helped me to look respectful, making me feel like I was a part of the experience. Thank you.

I really enjoyed meeting you and Carole for the first time and wish that I had the opportunity to spend more time there. Hopefully we well be able to get together again sometime somewhere soon and maybe even more of the IRW will be able to be there too.

A huge CONGRATULATIONS AND HUGS to a really nice person who allowed us to share her experience.

Sherry

That's it for now...The completed essay will be posted tomorrow.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

I was finally able to post this satellite image of tropical storm Beryl as she threatens Massachusetts. She is actually closer now, but this picture was a better one. It is only July. September is usually the most active month for storms, though it was July last year when Hurricane Dennis (cat 4) dropped a massive limb on my storage building.

Scarlett is finally back on whole pinkies. I gave her one last night, and she's held it down for 24 hours now. I just have to be careful not to try and rush her onto bigger food. I think that's what started the whole regurging episode to begin with. And good news! She is blue--meaning she is going to shed soon. This is definitely encouraging!

I'm thinking about changing the title of my blog. Sketches and More just seems a bit dull to me, and not entirely appropriate anymore since I haven't posted a sketch in a while. Maybe something like The Eclectic Eccentric or something outlandish thing like that. I'm open to suggestions. The URL will not change though, so if you have me linked, there will be no need to change it.


I'm going to transfer some of the well wishes from the women's list here, so bear with me...

From Claudia:

BECKY!!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

From Kay:


Becky,

That's so awesome!
Congratulations!!!!!

Kay

From Linde:

I had such a good time this past weekend. It was great seeing everyone and such an honor to be at Becky's test. Carol it was so much fun being around you again. Sherry you are such a joy! Sunshine I am so excite anytime I can be around you. You are like a daughter and so make me proud of the future of Isshinryu. I am sorry about Sat afternoon and night. Sometimes I just can not control my body. I hope it did not damper your weekend in any way. Well I am back home. Big hug to all

From Cindy:

Woohoo! Congratulations, Becky - and an awesome essay!

Cindy W.


More later...and the completed essay!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It's Even Worse Today

Pay very close attention to the line that says, "Feels like: 109"

It felt really weird driving up to class last night. Different. I almost didn't want to go. For a while, I really wanted to just put my brown belt back on and go back to the way things were. James said he'd felt the same way.

When sensei started class, we both headed towards our usual spots at the beginning of the kyu line. Years of habit don't break overnight.

I finally broke down and watched the tape of my test. I'd been resisting watching it, because I knew it hadn't been one of my best days. I was right. I was very disappointed, both in the quality of the tape, and in the quality of my performance. The guy who was taping for me set the camera up behind all the spectators, so what he got on film was only from the waist up. Half a kata is the stances, and he didn't get any of that.

I'd said that my kata felt really weak, and it looked it too. Seisan looked pretty good, but they went downhill from there. I think it was a combination of nerves and the heat. I was so nervous that I was hoping the board didn't see my legs shaking. I said something to sensei about that, and he said the board understood that. If the board came to my home dojo and saw me working out on my turf, where I felt safe and confident, they would see a completely different person.

After doing kata--including weapons kata, and bunkai, we did self defense--again one at a time. Sensei did say that the board was very impressed with my self defense. We did 5 different self defense techniques--three with one attacker and two with two attackers at once. My two-on-one was with Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Eiffling. For the first one, Mr. Sullivan was on my left side and Mr. Eiffling was on my right. Mr. Sullivan went over to Mr. Eiffling to plan their moves. When he did that, I turned and ran the other way. It was kind of an impulsive move, and after I did it, I thought, "oh, no! I shouldn't have done that. I'm going to get in trouble for it." But I didn't. Mr. Dreher liked it and actually commended me for my thinking. He said, "You'd be amazed at how many times people on the street just don't think. Why let them get their plans together? She noticed their planning and got the heck out. That was very good."

The last thing we did was sparring. I've always felt my sparring was my weakest point, and it really showed. However, they don't judge so much on technique as on heart. If you don't give up, if you stay in there and give it all you've got, you'll do ok. Since there were so many of us testing, we only had to score two points on our opponents. We sparred 6 matches each, the last one being with our sensei. The first person I sparred was Carole. We'd been looking so forward to this, but I got my two points on her so quickly, we were both disappointed in how short the match was. My second match was with Sunshine, and it was over almost as quickly. But thennnn I had to spar Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Christensen. Those weren't over quite as fast...But they were really fun to spar. For my fifth match, I sparred Linde. I was really hesitant to hit her, because she'd posted to the Women's list once that because of her surgeries, a hard hit to just the right place could really do some serious damage. She was yelling, "HIT ME!" and I was thinking "Where????" I finally got some head shots and got my points, but I think that was the most difficult sparring match I had. My last match was sensei, and it was a spar until you drop match. No points. Just keep sparring as long as you can keep standing. Sensei wussed out on me. He just wouldn't come after me. It was frustrating to me, since I'm not that aggressive. I tend to respond in kind.

Finally, the test was over and the black belts and such adjourned to discuss the test and decide who to promote and who not to promote. After what seemed an interminable wait, the candidates were called back in and promotions were awarded. James was promoted first, and he was promoted to Jr. Shodan. Sensei had wanted him promoted to Shodan, and said he fought for that, but the board felt James had some maturity issues that needed to be worked out. I'm kind of glad they spotted that, because I knew it all along. I'd posted about it here. Then I was promoted to shodan, or first degree black belt. Mr. Dreher did the promotions, and he'd said that when he promoted someone his sensei should come and stand beside Mr. Dreher during the promoting. When he called my name, sensei was in another world, and didn't come forward. Mr. Dreher asked me, "Do you not have a sensei?" When sensei finally woke up and came forward, Mr. Dreher said, "For a minute, I though I was going to get to claim her." That would be both an honor and a privilege to be claimed by Mr. Dreher. He did give me a hug afterwards, and Mr. Worbington, too. Mr. Worbington hugged me, that is. He didn't hug Mr. Dreher.

Unfortunately, the knucklehead who was taping for me didn't tape my promotion, nor James' neither. I couldn't believe that! He got the other three testees, but not us. DUHHHHH! James' dad only taped James, so now there is no video record of my shodan promotion anywhere, unless Sunshine got it. That was the most disappointing thing of all.

Well, now I've got two years before I can be eligible for ni-dan, so I've got a long time to get things right.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I've Been Asked

How does it feel to be a black belt? Well, I'll tell you.

It feels like being run over by a truck. All I've wanted to do since I got home Saturday is to sleep.
The heat isn't helping. This is what I came home to:

These are the people who tested with me. Even though I'd never met most of them before Saturday or had met them only briefly, I feel we now share a bond that will last us the rest of our lives.

Lisa Wanker, Dylan ?, James Selby, Me, Kevin Hood

In other news, I got both ball pythons to eat scented rats Sunday evening. I'd tried to feed Slider a rat scented with mouse scent last week. He struck and constricted it, but didn't eat it. I decided to skip feeding him this week, so he'd be good and hungry by the time I tried to feed him again.

After looking at Monty, I decided he was big enough to try a weaned rat, so I thawed him one and scented it with Mouse Maker (TM). I use my blowdryer to heat the mice and rats up, and when I started to carry the rat to Monty, I noticed that Slider was halfway out of his cave and looking around. On a whim, I offered him the rat, and he ate it! This is a good thing. If he keeps eating them, it will be even better. Then I will move him up to small rats, and maybe he will finally begin to grow. I don't know if he'll ever catch up to where he's supposed to be (if you don't remember, he was adopted from someone who seldom fed him, and didn't feed him enough when he did), but he'll at least be healthy now.

Anyway, I thawed and scented another weaned rat for Monty, and he ate it with no hesitation. It took him a while to get it down since it is bigger than what he is used to, but so far he hasn't regurged it. I've got two to feed today, but I think I may hold them off until tomorrow.

Gotta go to class tonight. My first class as a black belt. More details of my test will be forthcoming as well, as soon as my brain has rested a bit more.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Back To Normal Today

The new normal, that is. So it's back to work. Back to the dull job. Back to the mundane daily routines of my life. Same old same old...

Yet it will never be the same again. Just as I can never go back to being a civilian again, I can never not be a black belt again. It is a part of me now, just as my mind and soul are a part of me. Even if I were to start a new style as a white belt, this black belt will still be a part of me. I can't unlearn what I now know. I can't undo what is done.

I didn't want to go back to work this morning. I didn't want to get back into the grind of the same old dullness. I didn't want this weekend to end.

I think that's part of the test.

----------------------------------

I know many of you are anxious to hear about my test, but how does one reduce such a day to mere words? How does one express the depth of such a day on a simple page? How does one convey the meaning of such an event to those who haven't experienced it?

I don't know, but I'll do my best.

Friday evening, the rest of the ladies got in.

Carole Scala, Linde Belt, Sherry Lang, and Sunshine Brake.

Linde actually got in first, and tried to call me on my cell phone. Somehow, though, my phone had accidentally gotten set to forward all my calls to my home phone. So she was unable to get me. She kept getting my answering machine. I was rather perturbed, because she called about 10 minutes after Carole and I left to go to the dojo to work out. We were waiting and waiting for Linde to call, and she was calling and calling and couldn't get up with us. We finally decided to go back home and get something to eat, and when we got there, there were 8 messages on my machine from Linde.

We went on up to the hotel after eating a quick bite, and hadn't been there long when in walks Sherry and Sunshine. There were squeals and hugs--the official Isshinryu Women greeting--all around. Now, Sherry totally took me by surprise. Always on the list she describes herself as a middle aged, short, chubby woman. I'd been imagining someone with wrinkles and gray hair, and about as wide as she is tall....

NOT SO! She is a knockout who looks about half her age, and there is not a chubby spot on her body! She has the brightest smile and the most winning personality. I liked her at once.

Sunshine was exactly like I'd expected her to look...but that's cheating since I've seen enough pictures of her to know what she looks like. I can't tell you how much I appreciated her coming all this way to support someone she'd never even met. Her willing spirit comforted me before, and during the test. Her gift of the gab kept me awake on the drive back. And her clever way of saying things...

Carole asked them how long the drive from Alabama to Grenada was. Sunshine replied, "About 14 conversations long!"

------------------------------------

Saturday morning dawned clear and sunny. Carole and I went to the hotel to pick up the other ladies, and the five of us piled into my Jimmy and hit the road. Some of them offered to drive, but I said, "no, I'll drive since I know where I'm going." Wonderful conversation was had, with Linde sharing some of her vast knowledge of the people involved in Isshinryu. It is amazing how much information she has and how much she knows. The car ride was definitely too short.

We got a late start, so I drove a bit faster than I normally would. I was getting kind of nervous about getting there on time, but we made it. Sensei told us to get to the dojo around 9ish, and we pulled in about 9:15. Sensei got there not long after I did. James had been there since around 8ish, since his parents insisted on leaving Grenada at 6.

Joshua and his girlfriend, Tom and his wife, and Twinkie also came to support us. I knew Josh and Tom were going to be there, but Twinkie was a total surprise. I'm glad he was there.

By the time the test started it was pretty hot. And I do mean HOT. Inside the dojo it was even hotter. Picture this: no air conditioning, windows that won't open, no circulation except for two big fans. That's all the cooling you get. Add to that a heat index of well over 100 degrees--outside. Then imagine us going out into that heat to cool off. That's about how hot it was in the dojo. About halfway through the test, I happened to glance down and saw each of the candidates standing in a literal puddle of his own sweat.

Finally the test started. I was really surprised that they skipped basics and stances. I'm guessing they did that in the interest of time. There were 5 of us testing, James and I testing for shodan, Kevin Hood from Mr Christensen's dojo also testing for shodan, a 14 year old boy testing for Jr. shodan, and Lisa Wanker testing for ni-dan.

The first thing we did was two-man basics. We went through that twice. I got to do them with James, which was good since we'd practiced them together for so long.

After that, we lined up and did kata one at a time. We each did seisan, seiunchin, and then niahanchi. Then Mr. Dreher said to do wansu, chinto, and kusanku back to back to show how we pace ourselves. Either way, it was just me out there by myself in front of the board. I was so nervous. I felt like my kata were really weak because my legs were shaking so much from nerves. This was the first time I'd ever performed kata in front of people I didn't know, and certainly the first time I performed kata in front of other black belts. But I made it through them, and didn't forget to kiai.

At this time, I must take time to confess that I'd completely misjudged the board members. I'd always had a vision of them sitting like vultures or something waiting to pounce on the tiniest mistake. Quite the opposite. They were very supportive and very helpful, taking the time to encourage us, correct us, and even to remind us to bend our knees and breathe. I really felt like they wanted us to do well. They let Kevin do his kusanku kata three times so that he could get it right. The board members were Mr. Larry Dreher, Mr. Philip Worbington, Mr. Jimmy Christensen, Mr. James Finn, and one other man whose name I don't remember. Mr. Worbington and Mr. Dreher both came up and hugged me after the test.

After finishing the other kata, it was time for sanchin. I was pretty worried about sanchin kata, because sensei has never tested me on it. Not only that, the torn ligaments in my left ankle have been giving me trouble lately, and it's really hard for me to get my stance set. Now, for those of you who don't know, the way they test sanchin is to...well...to beat on you while you are performing it. I was tested by Mr. Worbington and Mr. Christensen--both big men. They didn't cut me any slack either. As soon as I took the first step, they started in on me. Mr. Dreher kept hollering, "Stance, stance!" and I know I couldn't get my stance set. That was my weak side stance--the one involving my injured ankle. Once I was able to step forward again, I seemed to settle down and was able to finish the kata without too much trouble. Mr. Dreher let me do the kata again without being tested, I guess so they could see that I really knew how to do it. He told me to do the best kata I'd ever done, and I tried to. It looked much better that time. I was a bit embarrassed, though the first time. I feel like sensei should have prepared me better for that.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pictures From My Test

James and me before the test

Performing Seisan Kata


Performing Kusanku Kata

James' Promotion to Jr Black Belt


Tying On My Black Belt

(Far right--Sensei Wade Hobbs. To the left are the other candidates testing. L to R: Lisa Wanker--nidan, James Selby--Jr. Shodan, Dylan ??--Jr Shodan, Kevin Hood--Shodan Ho

Shodan Rei!

The Women of Isshinryu: Front Row Left to Right: Lisa Wanker-nidan, Linde Belt-rokudan, Me-shodan, Back Row Left to Right: Diana Finn-sandan, Deb Peden, Carole Scala-Nidan, Liberty Brake, aka Sunshine--nidan, Sherry Lang--nidan

To see more pictures, click on the My Webshots link in the side bar.

Saturday Sky



It's a little late, but I was a bit busy yesterday...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quick Update

while Carole is in the shower.
I picked Carole up at the airport in Memphis, and we came back home, by way of the Petco in Horn Lake. Or is it Olive Branch? Actually I think the address is Southaven, but now matter.... It was raining so hard that I couldn't see to drive, so we stopped off for a bit to let the storm pass. And the Petco was a convenient place to stop. They had a baby Mexican Black King in there and I wanted it so baddddd. Those are on my wish list. The guy there said they did have two, but one tried to eat the other, so it is in the infirmary. I told him that kings snakes do that. Good thing Carole was with me, or I might have had to pick that one up.

After resting a bit, it was time to go to class.

We mostly went over kata and self defense. When we got home, Carole called her husband Tony and was telling him all about the class. While I was not actively listening to the conversation, one sentence she said really jumped out at me.

"Nobody laughed--nobody made fun of you."

That really struck me, because for her to say it with such amazement in her voice indicated to me that somewhere, sometime she was in a dojo in which they did make fun of people.
Well, she is out of the shower now, and it's my turn. We're going shopping today, and back to the dojo to work out a little more. Then back home to watch chick flicks. Whilst I shower, I'll use the new washcloth I finished off this morning. Ok, ok, I wove then ends in this morning. I actually finished the knitting yesterday.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm off!

To the airport to pick up Carole!

-------------------------------------

Later....

Carole's first impression of Grenada:


She said she felt like she was walking into an oven!

I may update later tonight, I may not. Depends on how much we party.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

To Pass the Time

Swiped from Theresa. From the long list, you are to Bold what you have done. It's a long list. I don't blame you if you skip about half of it. Comments in parentheses are mine.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (Mt Vesuvius, though is officially a volcano)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone (I've taken them by myself...)
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree (though I'm not a tree hugging liberal)
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea ( I saw one from an airplane once. Major cool)
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (not by choice. I was working nights)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper (what mother hasn't?)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse (lunar, not solar)
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run (Does kickball count? I could bold this one if it did.)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (In karate class, no less)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states (A goal, though not met yet)
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk (Ex was an alcoholic)
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland (sort of. It was a layover in Shannon)
52. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites (lots of those in Italy)
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days (after I had my tonsils out, I refused to eat, but I don't think it was for 5 days)
77. Made cookies from scratch (It's the only way!)
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Climbed a lighthouse
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently ( I was pretty good at Italian, but never fluent)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an illness that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth (I've watched plenty of times, but never helped)
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone (I think, I didn't go to the doctor)
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet (I have 7 now)
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours (If it said "been awake...)
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ (sort of--I assisted Jon and Ron a lot at the Enlisted club)
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone's life

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Light Blogging


Light blogging today. I've been busy working on my shodan essay. It's almost done. I've got my main ideas down, and will just spend time between now and Saturday polishing it up.

James was back in class tonight. His grandpa passed away and they had the funeral today. We were working on stuff for our test and he kept apologizing for not being all there. I reassured him that it was ok, that I understand. And I do. All four of my grandparents died before I turned 23. And my dad died when I was 30.

Speaking of, this Friday, July 14, 2006, it will be 11 years to the day that my dad passed away. I will have too much going on to mention it. I may not even blog any this weekend. But you can be assured he will be on my mind and in my heart.

I think he would be proud of me.

Monday, July 10, 2006

All Worded Out

I've been working on my Shodan essay, and my writer is all written out. I think this first part is pretty well complete. Here is what I've gotten so far:


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. It has completely transformed me, and my way of thinking, feeling, and perceiving the world. 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 see things differently--through the eyes of a Martial Artist. I experience things differently--with a Martial mindset. I think differently--both from the way I thought before my experience in the Martial Arts and from the way those who have never trained in a Martial Art think. In the paragraphs that follow are some of my thoughts on what karate has meant to me.
When I first began training, our dojo was in sensei's shop. His garage, if you will. It had no air conditioning in the summer. The humidity was always very high. All I had to do was walk into the dojo, and my hair would start to curl. It made for some pretty miserable workouts.
The dojo had a very small, and not very efficient, wood heater in the winter. It didn't cast heat more than an arm's length away. There is no bond like those formed by huddling with your fellow karate ka in a two foot space of warmth trying to keep from freezing. It didn't always work. Many a time I left class in January and February unable to feel my feet because they were so cold.
There were two red wasps that lived somewhere in the building. Their names were George and Laura. It seems they wanted to learn karate also because they were always out and about while classes were going on. Nothing teaches you focus like concentrating on performing a kata while red wasps are closely inspecting your face, especially if you're allergic to them. Then you know that you not only have to deal with the discomfort of being stung, but also with three days of pure Hell as your body reacts to the venom.
But through all of that, I learned to push myself beyond what I thought was physically possible. To keep going when I really wanted to quit. To try things I never would have had the courage to try otherwise. To reach deep inside myself and find strength I didn't know I had. To find the discipline to go to class, when I just wanted to stay home.
They say adversity builds character. I really miss that old dojo. I developed a lot of character there.


I have to have it finished before Saturday, but I'm all out of words.

Ahhh, maybe a good night's sleep will clear the cobwebs.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Some People

Just don't get it.

First, some back story is required.

There's been a hot argument raging on a forum I frequent these last few days. There is this one guy who always comes on asking questions and seeking advice. He is given both advice and answers, and usually ignores both. Then he'll come back and ask the same questions again and again, and still ignore the advice he has been given. Some of the more experienced people on that forum are getting pretty tired of it and have called him on it.

Anytime that happens, there's always going to be the inevitable whine about lack of respect. What he said was:


Ok you guys. Let me ask you something. Can all of you please stop treating me like a child and calling me immature? Immature I am not. You guys don't know me besides on here. I have a lot on my plate for someone who is my age. The fact that I work full time, I have a girl friend, I have a lot of bills to pay, I have my mother to take care of, and the list goes on and on. I'm tired of you guys treating me like a child. As fo your younger kids, your parents need to teach you better manners. I AM older that you and you guys should show a little bit of respect. If I sound angry, thats because I'm frustrated with the way that I'm being treated.


Without getting into a debate about whether he is in fact immature and childish (I thought he was around 15 years old, but he's really 20), has a lot on his plate (it's called LIFE baby, you don't have anything that the rest of us don't have to deal with also), and is deserving of respect (respect is commanded by the man you are, not demanded by throwing childish temper tantrums), or is even older than most of the posters on the forum (he isn't), or not, this response by a 15 year old really amused me:


honostly i dont have to show you any respect, because as a second degree black belt i EARNED it, and i dont dish it out to beggers and those wanting attention. i spent 8 years of my life training and EARNED it. you have not earned it you have aksed for it, not gotten it asked for it again and still not gotten it, in my opinion you dont just get respect you EARN it, you just are not born with respect, and lashing out at people who are trying to help you is not respectfull, so before you make yourself seem more idiotic just shut up, and use google to research your question first before making yourself seem more stupid.


I really had to laugh at that. First off, this was a reptile forum. What does martial arts have to do with it? He pulled that info completely out of the blue and completely off topic. Anyway, aside from the fact that this particular bit of information was completely irrelevant to the conversation, it amused me that he was talking about earning respect because he'd earned his belt. No 15 year old earns a black belt, much less a second degree. It is given to him. To be a nidan at 15, he must have gotten his shodan at 12 or 13. No respectable instructor would give a child a black belt in the first place.

Before I started training, I thought that if a child could do "the stuff", then the child ought to be able to get the belt. However, now that I know what "the stuff" entails, I realize that there's no way a child could withstand the rigors of a true black belt test. Those who do promote children to black belts usually modify the test so that the child can complete it. So, to me, it isn't a true black belt. It's a gimmie.

In Isshinryu, very few dojos will award a black belt to anyone under 18, though there are a few that will promote to black belt at 16. Many will offer a Junior Black belt to younger students, but they have to re-test for full black belt when they reach 18. And that one is a full fledged black belt test.

James is an exception. He is 15, but will be 16 in two months, so sensei is going ahead and testing him since it seems to be so hard to get tests scheduled in our association. If it were up to me, though, he'd have to wait because he is very immature in someways. He doesn't understand what respect truly is, nor does he understand the difference between authority and power.

There are lots of dojos that do promote anyone and everyone. Most of them are in it for the money, not the quality of the art. Pay your money, get your belt, no matter what. I've even seen black belts being offered over the internet. Pay your money, get your belt, certificate, and a tape of what you are supposed to learn before you wear the belt.

Things like that really cheapen the art.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's Saturday



And that means it's Sky time.

Perhaps I should explain a bit about my little rant yesterday. There has been a thread running these last few days on the Cornsnake forum about the worst reptile advice people were ever given. Several people on there mentioned being told to "teach" their snakes to eat fruits and vegetables because feeding them mice is cruel. One guy even tried to feed his snake lettuce and soda crackers. You couldn't even get me to eat lettuce, much less get a snake eat it!

This is eerily coincidental to an episode of Dinotopia my son watched last week. In that episode, the Dinotopians--a community of strictly vegetarian people and dinosaurs--find an egg which hatches into a baby T-Rex. In that show, carnivorous dinosaurs and portrayed as evil, mindless monsters. You can almost see the evil and hatred projecting from their computer generated visages.

Herbivorous dinosaurs, on the other hand, are portrayed as gentle, friendly, open minded, and intelligent beings living and working with on equal footing with the human members of society. They have developed complex social structures and language. One can even speak English and French.

Anyway, this baby T-Rex hatches, and the dinotopians decide they are going to "reform" it by teaching it to eat vegetables. It doesn't work, of course, and they end up releasing it back into the wild.

And this episode was eerily reminiscent of an old Land Before Time movie in which the young dinosaurs found an egg which hatched into a T-Rex. They also decided they were going to teach it to eat what they eat--vegetation.

It's been on my mind a lot lately because of this. And it just touched a nerve.

Now to go thaw out mice for the rest of my snakes...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sunset Eating (Caution: Graphic Photos)

Ok they're not really TOO graphic, but for those of a sensitive nature, they might be a bit on the graphic side.

This is Sunset. He gave me such worry by not eating for almost two months back during breeding season. As you can see, he is well over that phase. This is what I call his tightwad pose...


Constricting, then chowing down on his mouse. It is amazing to see how much their heads and necks can stretch to accomodate prey items. Then with a yawn, it all pops back into place.

Without snakes, whose primary prey is mice, we'd be up to our armpits in the little rodents in no time.

For any who might be concerned, the mice I feed are humanely killed in a CO2 chamber. They in no way experience the terror of being attacked and suffocated by a predator of this nature. They simply fall asleep and never wake up.

To me, it seems both silly and cruel to deny any animal its natural food source. Snakes eat mice. Sometimes they eat other things as well, such as lizards, frogs, birds, other snakes--and for the larger ones, things like rabbits and even goats. Snakes are carnivores. Period.

None are vegetarian. It would be a slow and painful death by malnutrition if one were to force a snake to eat fruits and vegetables. Or if the snake were lucky, it could die a relatively quick, yet still painful and cruel death by intestinal impaction from being forced to consume things it cannot, cannot digest.

Yet there are people who would do just that. Try to get snakes to eat vegetables. There are those who believe NO animal should be allowed to eat meat, not even those who were designed to do so.

Animals whose digestive systems were designed to process meat simply cannot be "taught" to eat vegetables. It won't work. They will starve to death.

And which is worse, killing the prey or killing the predator?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My Best Marilyn Monroe



Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday Mr. President. Happy birthday to youuuuuu!

One week! One more week! Next Thursday Carole will be here! Yippie, Yippie, Yay, Hooray!

Sunshine and Sherry are also coming, but they won't be here until Friday night. I'm glad they're coming, but it kind of makes me feel obligated to play hostess. Unfortuantely, I'll have other things on my mind next weekend....

For YES! It is finally the BIG DAY!

My black belt test.

Am I nervous? Yes.

Do I feel ready? No.

Is my shodan essay finished? NOOOO!

Sensei says I have the "before-the-test-blues", but he is confident I'll do fine.

On a more somber note, James was not in class tonight, and might not make it back next week either. His grandfather has cancer and is terminal. They are all in Yazoo City, and will be until the end. James' dad said he would get him there for the test, no matter what, but couldn't promise he could get him here for any classes between now and then. He said he'd try, but couldn't say for sure.

What a time for this to happen. Keep that family in your prayers, please.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Personnel Inspection

Navy basic training, Orlando Florida. May thorough July 1989

One of my company commanders was conducting a personnel inspection of another company. While inspecting uniforms, she noticed that one young man seemed to have something in his front pocket. This is strictly against the rules while in basic training.

"Recruit, what is that in your pocket?" she asked.

The young man seemed a bit flustered, but didn't otherwise respond.

The CC put her finger against the bulge created by object in the young man's pocket, and asked again,

"Recruit, what is that in your pocket?"

The recruit became increasingly more uncomfortable, but still didn't respond. The CC tried one more time,

"Recruit, what is that in your pocket?"

emphasizing each word by poking the bulge firmly with her finger.

"That's me, Ma'am!"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof - Lev. XXV, v. X"--Inscription on the Liberty Bell, from Leviticus 25:10

Let's not forget what the day is all about. It isn't about barbecues and beer. It's about liberty. It's about freedom. It's about the sacrifices our forefathers made to give us that liberty and freedom. And while you're thinking about it:

The Declaration Of Independence .

Abrupt change of subject. Another baby hat completed.



Yippee! I found a new--or new to me--way to cast off, courtesy of the Yarn Harlot. This will come in really handy when using up those leftover bits of yarn. I won't have to guess at how much to leave for the cast off.

I remember Stephanie Pearl-McPhee from Knitlist knitting e-group. She is so funny. I'd saved all her posts in a folder entitled Stephanie's Pearls, but lost it when my computer crashed. I suppose I could sort through the archives and find them again. I may save that for a rainy Sunday afternoon...if I'm not busy knitting, that is.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Blogger's Block

I can't think of anything to blog about today. It's been kind of a dull day.

I didn't do much today. We went to church this morning and the service was patriotic in theme. It was mostly musical, though by the end of the service, I wondered how many variations of America the Beautiful they were going to do. We came home and mostly vegged out in front of the TV. Though it wasn't as hot today as it was yesterday, it was still mighty warm, getting up to 96' at one point. So I stayed inside and knitted this baby hat.


I made Cody get out and wash my vehicle. I had to nearly threaten his life to get him to do it. I don't understand that. When I was a kid, we loved to wash the car. But then, we didn't have computers, and game boys, and playstations, and such. We had to make our own entertainment.

An interesting thing happened the other day when I washed some clothes. After they were dry, I was bringing them in off the line, and I noticed a caterpillar on a pair of jeans. I gently removed him and put him on the ground, and noticed a second, then a third, then a fourth caterpillar on the same pair of jeans.

I thought, "Where are all these caterpillars coming from?" and then I noticed a nearby tree:


And though I didn't get close enough to touch them, they somehow managed to get stains all over the shirt I was wearing. Fortunately, the stains came out in the wash.

Only 13 days until my test...must...work...out...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Saturday Sky

While randomly searching for knitting blogs, I stumbled across this idea. Sounds great, so here is my first post for



This was taken around 7:00 PM, as it was too hot to go outside any earlier. To wit:

My personal thermometer read:


It was so hot I didn't even let the dog go out. She was rather upset with me because she prefers to spend her days outside. But it was too hot even for her. According to the weather channel Desktop Weather program, it is now (at 7:30 PM) 93' with a heat index of 97'.

What I did, then, was watch DVD's and knit this:


This was made from a bit of the leftover yarn that had been my grandmother's. I originally made it in an adult size, but it ended up too squatty looking, so I frogged it and redid it in toddler/small child size. I'm almost done knitting up the partial skeins, then it'll be time for the big pattern search. That is, finding patterns that appeal to me and require the amounts of yarn I have.

Oh, I should probably explain what I was doing home all day on a Saturday. The plant, for some unknown reason decided to give everybody the weekend off! We also get the 4th off, but have to work Monday. I don't know what we're going to do for the 4th. My cousins--the only family I have here--always go to a family reunion over the 4th of July. That's the family on her father's side. I'm kin on her mother's. That's why I don't go.

In addition to knitting and movies, I fed three snakes and did a bit of housework, but who wants to hear about that?

Only 14 days until my black belt test. I'd better get to working out...

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