Monday, June 29, 2009

Demystyfying Lewa

First some facts
I attempted half-marathon only. After about 12 - 15 km my knee decided to give up so after that I half-run / half jogged. Not fun anymore. But first 15 km was a breeze. I did not practice and prepare for this even at all. No special training, no long-distance runs (my preferred distance is 5 km), nothing. And if it wasn't for knee failure I'd have done it in pretty good time. I was really enjoying the run, not really fighting with any fatigue, not fighting with heat. Pure joy of running. Seriously!

More facts
It's not 2800 m above sea level (as advertised), it actually is about 1700 (same as Nairobi). Hot? C'mon, the same weather as in Nairobi. So all that hype about toughest maraton on earth is much, much over-stated. Whoever went running in Nairobi is prepared for whatever he's to face in Lewa. I did run sometimes during mid-day sun in Nairobi and was more tired after 5 km than I was after 21.4 km at Lewa.

Additionally there are water points every 2.5 km where they give you water, wet sponges (to help u style your hair, or what), lucozade and fresh orange (in nicely cut quarters). Tough? Phew, come here to Aikido classes in mid-summer heat - this happens (at times) to be tough...

So the question - am I good? Well, perhaps I am. But the point is - half marathon is a walk in the park. If this is one of the toughest ones - go for it, guys. The atmosphere of all the runners is great, people supporting each other, really nice social experience.

An interesting thing - in toilets there was no lavatory paper but there were whole crates of condoms... You know - only in Kenya ;-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crazy? Me? No f***in' way!

Well, There is this thing here called Lewa Marathon. And for some odd reason I signed up. Admittedly I will attempt to run only half-marathon, that is 21400m. But the whole thing is at altitude of 2800m above sea level right on the equator in full African sun... People say this is the most demanding marathon in the world... and I am not in the best shape ever. And even when I was running regularly I would always say 5k is my distance... So we'll see. Will keep you posted. If you do not get any update after the weekend - you know what it means - I failed either to altitude/temp/fatigue or to wild lions that roam the area...

BTW- this is how legends are born... Hooah!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Perhaps not only in Kenya, but....

I was to go out on Friday to a place I didn't know. So I was cruising around downtown in my crappy Toyota and eventually I came to a point where suddenly, out of nowhere a cop jumped on me. I knew I must have done something wrong so I tried to pull blonde stunt by asking him for direction. He was prepared for that... Apparently this was one way road and I was going against the traffic. So we had a friendly civilized discussion, as all of us (OK, there were two of them, both carrying AK47 that did not inspire confidence in their safety as the rifles looked older than me) knew it was just a matter of how much.

So they offered to show me the direction to the place I was going to and they got into my car and we went for the drive. The price kept going down as we engaged in more and more personal discussion, but then... I got to the round-about. Which in itself was not a big deal, I am not that afraid of kenyan roads (not anymore), but there was red light there. So I stopped, you know - old habits die hard. But then another car passed us not paying any attention to the traffic lights, so I also slowly moved on...

You know - kinda funny. One thing to break law when nobody sees, but having two traffic cops in your car and breaking traffic rules is a whole different animal. Reaction from cops? Nothing.

Heh, I love this country...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Birankai Kenya?

Yesterday I met a friend who was studying with Chiba Sensei for some years, we had some drinks and gossiped about good old times and old friends...

Anyways - I don't think we'll start our dojo here - guess not this life. At least I'll try to talk her into doing some weapons class every one and then... So unless some things change dramatically no Birankai Kenya anytime soon.

But the interesting part was when she asked me what I do for living. I told her I was IN consultant. Then, of course, she asks what IN stands for so I told her its Intelligent Network. Then she (being American) asks does it has anything to do with information gathering, espionage and so on? I chuckled but then realized that - for people outside the field - this IN actually might be understood like that. Cool ;-) Unfortunately it's more boring than that but mum's the word - let people assume whatever they want...

Interesting hints from the edge...

Here

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Aaaarghhh... [followed by the sound of dripping blood]

Yeah, the sword thing...

First of all - last week I did have enough time to contact one man and have my sword sharpened. Admittedly I have mixed feelings... You know - sharpening (or polishing) of japanese swords is a very special process and a long and tedious one. Not many people can do it without ruining the blade. And this dude did actually sharpen my sword, and - oh Buddha - it's never been that sharp. But he did it by sharpening just the edge hence successfully ruining hamon and whole polish thing. Let's face it - as much as I love it as it is a good sword - it is by no means an antique or something of high collector's value. It is a tool. So I am happy it is sharp, sorry hamon is ruined and that is it. No hard feelings.

And then I brought it to Kenya. There are many reasons for that, let's just settle for I want to practice.

And today, just minutes ago during lunch break I got formally dressed (you know - gi, hakama, wide obi - all the usual stuff) took the sword and went to the terrace on the roof of my building. There I noticed my obi is too tight, but still, tried to practice. The third noto... and I took a big part of the skin of the left hand forefinger. Didn't even hurt. Damn, that thing is SHARP!

Anyway - looks like I will not be practicing for a while, and when I finally do - I have to be very, very careful...

Monday, June 8, 2009

GPS...

Small and stupid thing, but my new phone (Android OS based) has GPS and allows for many interesting applications. So if anyone of you would feel like popping to my office please come to 1 15' 36.9" / 36 47' 17.9"
That would be my office desk ;-)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wrecked car

Heh, did I mention that some three weeks ago some dude rammed into my car and smashed it pretty badly. I hoped to never see that car again, but today they gave it back. Damned, I hoped to never see that ride again...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Speaking of geeks...

For some reason I need to reinstall my PC. So I looked around office to find some geek who'd have Windows 7. And then I realized I am the geek here... Sheesh...

Sad news...

Several things happened over last couple of days... Some of them sad some almost tragic...

First - my backpack was stolen from the car that was parked within Nairobi Holiday Inn parking lot. None of the guards saw nothing - apparently inside job. All my documents were stolen, a beautiful Vaio notebook, external hard disk drive with all my stuff, almost finished second part of Lazarek story... The bad part was I was supposed to go to Poland two days later... And I did - thanks to very efficient friends at Polish Embassy I got new temporary passport within hours. Really kudos to our Consul and the whole bunch.

Then I arrived back home and had to apply for new ID, passport, ATM cards, etc... All done in one day.

Then I was told to take all my things... I had to move out. I took this opportunity to exercise working with my attachments. About one third of all my things I threw or gave away... Did it hurt? Not much, once it's done - it's done. So I got rid of all those unfinished projects, my wonderful stereo, motorized CD chest, designer hi-fi stand... I got rid of all of those.
One third of my stuff got stashed at friendly places... The rest I took back with me to Kenya. It is sad when things end... All those years, all those emotions...

Then I managed to smuggle my sword to Kenya! Yes, I have my Bugei Bamboo Katana here - it's been recently resharpened, so I hope to do some serious tameshigiri on all those bamboos...

So the bottom line is - I am back here, alone and without direction, like leaf in the wind... You know all those geek sayings? Like my home is where my server is? Well, my home is where my sword is...