Friday, November 30, 2012

I was worried for valid reasons

Seattle Marathon 11-25-12

My training in regards to distance and running sucked this year.

My training in regards to martial arts was pretty solid.

I have been nicked up and having too much lower back and left hip pain too often.

I was really sick all week, the kind where the color of the stuff you are coughing up is worrisome.

I hate excuses.

I am stubborn.

The weather was dry.

My sinuses were mostly cleared up.

I had new running gear to wear.

I succeeded in my slowest race in the 15 years I have now been doing this.

I was immediate in keeping my mind on each small stretch and accepting that the time would end up the way it was.

Clock Time*: 6:25:17
Chip Time*: 6:23:39

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Poem About Cold Mornings

Cold November morning air

Cuddly, snuggly cat

Snooze alarms

Surprised I got to work on time

Monday, November 12, 2012

Adding a Prefix or a Suffix can be tricky

Adding a prefix or a suffix can really cloud the legitimacy of a word in Scrabble (TM).

It is really east to add on a pre, re, dis, or un, to the front end or an ed, er, est, or ing to the back end of the word.  Even when it is not exactly common use it can still be grammatically correct and therefore legal and playable.  When not, it is worth a challenge.

For instance, I dropped "untrade" onto the board the other night and then sold it pretty hard.  It was an 87 point bomb, but only about the third round.  The choice was made to let it go.  Turns out it is not playable.

Lesson learned.

I have to admit that had anyone thrown an S or a D onto it I might have challenged it myself after being the one to play it, which is definitely sort of underhanded but not entirely unprecedented in our group.

Apparently, "prego" is a questionable spelling of a word still considered as slang and not a playable word either.  Pulled that off in the second game on the upper middle triple word score for something like 33, also fairly early in the game.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Magic really is Cardboard Crack

Friday Night Magic
November 9, 2012
Phoenix Games - Mukilteo, WA

For many years and for various odd reasons I have avoided Magic The Gathering.  It is one of those things that has become so big that it felt like it would be impossible to wade into, sort of like starting Doctor Who with its decades of back story.  Recently, my gaming has brought me to the conclusion and understanding that it is in fact accessible after all.

Some of the kids at the schools I work at have given me little pointers at times, but last year at GeekGirlCon I got an actual tutorial and have been planning to play ever since.  A teacher friend and I gamed one day and played some and so I went out and got some current cards that are not a huge investment and ready playable.

I made the decision to stick to the pre-constructed decks for now and to not alter them until I played some actual games.  I went to a Monday casual play and decided to dive right in and play a Friday Night Magic event.  A local store (Phoenix Games) was my gaming location of choice.  I discovered that I needed to register and am now an actual card carrying Magic The Gathering player.  My scores are apparently recorded officially somehow.  This is both interesting and sort of meh since I did not win a game.  19 players and I came in 19th at 0-5 with all 5 being 0-2.  A few games were actually close and had a few little things happened I could have won a hand or two I think.  However, I am likely the single lowest ranking MTG player in the world right now out of millions.  Ah well. A good time was had and the other players gave me huge amounts of tips and advice and were patient with this Noob.

Learning is fun, but learning a lot also means losing a lot.  I played the Red/Blue deck.  Maybe I should have played the Red/Black deck (which won a hand at casual play night).  I have a couple ideas about constructing the deck so I am going to tinker with the Red/Black and see what happens.

I did get the last pick of the decks and promos, but this card is actually pretty cool and from the M13 Prerelease.  I am going to add it in and play it next time just on principle. Next time and strategy are already in mind and being planned.  Hooked. Cardboard crack indeed.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Every Four Years I Miss Raffles

When I was two years old I got a dog for my birthday I named Raffles.  She was a little black dog and I grew up with her.  She was never a bad dog, but she was not exactly well trained either.  An open door meant it was time to go out into the neighborhood to find the dog. But, she loved going up into the mountains where we had property and was the best dog in the world up there.

When I was 17 years old and a senior in High School I missed out on voting in the presidential election since I would not turn 18 until the following July.  As a result I did not vote in the 1984 election and cast my first vote in the epic Bush 41 versus Dukakis election. There was the 1986 midterm I got to vote in, but that was not the same thing.

Pets are family.  And the day after the 1984 general election I lost family.  Raffles had taken ill and was a very old little dog and my father was tasked with awful task.  I came home from school and he told me she was gone with obvious pain in his eyes.  It hurt deeply, but to see how my father felt my pain too has always been a moment I hold onto in the relationship I have with my dad.

The night before the 1988 election I actually saw Dukakis give a speech in Spokane on the campus of Gonzaga University.  His celebrity entourage was with him and included Carrie Fisher, Rob Lowe, Hal Linden, and John Larroquette. Regan got his third term through a surrogate.

Every four years I reflect on those events.  I put a lot of myself into the 1988 campaign.  Losing my dog was a very sad experience. Four years from now my son gets to vote in his first general election while my daughter misses it and must wait to vote in 2020 and be 21 at her first like her father was.

But, the real reason for this post is because I miss my dog, still.  I have had a number of dogs and been around a number of them as though they were mine like Yogi, Dasher, Babie, Spike, Joker, Boomer, and others.  I may not remember Raffles every day, but I always do when voting for president.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

It Had Been Too Long ... Sparring Tournament

Seattle Taekwondo
Sparring Tournament
November 3, 2012

I am approaching nearly a decade of Taekwondo and Thai Kickboxing training. In that time I have graduated to Black Belt in both programs.  I have previously competed in three tournaments, winning one of them back in 2005.  A number of other awards have been earned over the years.  I even now teach.

But, it had been over six years since I last entered a sparring tournament.  It was time to change that.

It was important to me that I be in the correct frame of mind for this event.  I thought long and hard about it and realized that if I focused on efficiency then I could be competitive. It is one thing to lose, but another thing entirely to not perform well.  I can live with the scoring if I know that it was really my best. Plus, it is very easy to get injured if focus is off and I have to work on Monday morning.

Over the past few years I have done a good job of being very immediate in the things I do, keeping a good focus and not multi-tasking when it would be detrimental to do so.  This morning I focused on nothing but how my muscles felt and thinking about what kinds of kick combos and strategy I would bring to my bouts.  There were a number of things on my agenda, but all of that could wait mentally until the afternoon.

The men in my division all wished each other well.  We gave each other encouragement and all hoped for the best.

My first bout was a 6-4 win over a younger and quicker, but less experienced opponent.  He really brought energy to the bout.  Had it been longer than two rounds he would likely have worn me down as he was narrowing the score at the end.

A break between bouts for other divisions was merciful.  I watched the other two in my division spar a very controlled and intelligent bout.  It was clear that I would need to spar smart to win the second bout to win the division on the day.

For the final it became very clear as the first round went on that I would need to take a different second round approach.  It was 3-3 after one round, but my opponent had landed a two point back kick and looked set to keep bringing it.  I felt he could land more and rack up points so I needed a way to minimize that kick without merely keeping distance.  I in no way wanted a sudden death round to follow with that back kick looming out there. The energy in the room was awesome.  Everyone was cheering and encouraging. During the brief break between rounds I remembered a discussion with an instructor a year or so ago where he discussed bringing a flurry of kicks very early to try and rack up a number of points and to therefore control the round and the bout through a lead.  I took a series of very deep breaths, gave my corner man Brian a double fist bump, turned, and went right at my opponent with a number of kicks in rapid succession, including a couple of double kicks with my left and at least one back kick.  Having managed to land several kicks for points early in that round I then continued the previous round approach of keeping distance to minimize the double point back kicks and ended the bout at 11-6.