Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On less serious note

So, once you become uchi-deshi you are placed at the very end of the food chain.
Enlightened teachers know this and this triggers two types of behavior on their part:

1. They try to provide you with the food and all the support you need to survive your time which is highly demanding both mentally and physically. So, in spite of being at the end of the food chain - you still get decent food. Or should I say - decent enough. This support is usually given in such a way that uchi-deshi is not aware of this and can not use this as a means of any mental support.

2. They will challenge you in EVERY possible way, both physically (technically, endurance and stamina challenges, sleep deprivation, alcohol overuse, you name it) and mentally (by scaring the living shit out of you, demanding that dojo is cleaner that hospital and by throwing all random tasks on him). And then, of course, there is a lot of pissing contests.

And then uchi-deshi is often asked impossible questions (like Zen koans) and given impossible tasks. What is the solution to such riddles? Well, every uchi-deshi eventually achieves his own way of dealing with this. What seems to be universally working is this:

Try to touch your ear with your tongue
Try to salivate from the corner of your mouth as much as possible
While doing all of the above try to say I love you to the person who gave you the impossible task/question
Try to hug/kiss the challenger:

Please note this will not work with EVERYBODY. Your aim as uchi-deshi is to survive and gain as much exposure as possible. Most challengers will just turn away with disgust. But then there are some who will just punch you in the guts/face/whatever. So you need to know who you are dealing with before you devise any strategy here (vide Sun Tzu).

And of course - unless your femur bone is broken to the point that it pierces the neck skin next to your collarbone...
What happens in dojo - stays in dojo

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On Vertx

So all the Kryptek goodies I got are from Vertx.

Initial impressions were great. They sell these targeted for Operation Athlete and I do see where this comes from. The design is really top-notch, really functional.

The only problem I have is the durability of the camo print. Typhon (the night shade one) was visibly paler after just one wash. For me this is more of a fashion statement (I do not operate anymore ;-), but I am a bit disappointed with how quickly I will loose the colors.

This is especially annoying given the premium price I have to pay for Kryptek in Poland.

Monday, October 20, 2014

On Kryptek

Yeah, Kryptek, right? The load of Vertx goodies have just arrived.

You see, when I was a mad scientist working for National Institute of Telecommunications in Poland we got some jobs for the Polish Military Industrial Complex (LOL) to verify electromagnetic properties of some fabrics. And ever since I was I got interested in both camo patterns and fabrics properties. I was there when Canadians designed their CadPat, was there when USMC intro'ed Marpat, was witnessing when USArmy did the dramatic ACU fuck-up. And then somehow the whole hell broke loose. Now we have Multicam, ATAC, Navy's AOR1/AOR2, DPM, Flecktarn etc. And of course there is shitloads of hunting camo, starting from Mossy Oak, RealTree up to amazing Cabela's ColorPhase.

Initially I fell in love with desert Marpat. I loved the fractal science behind it, yet for some reason it failed to provide what I require good camo to do - break figure outline. I still have some Marpat somewhere, but am a bit unsatissfied.

And then came Kryptek. And somehow me like it. First of all - the Kryptek Highlander with big patches of contrasting shades providing what I need - very nice outline break:

And then there is Kryptek Typhon, the night-shade flavor.

By no means - Kryptek is not the ultimate pattern out there. If there is any grain of truth in Quantum Stealth - this could truly revolutionize this field. But until this happens - it's all up to the personal preference. I love lizard-skin feel of Kryptek. Yet the near infrared performance of Kryptek is only so-so.

But for the moment Kryptek is the shit, it is the fashion of camouflage, the thing to show off at your local shooting range.

Monday, September 15, 2014

On the quest for perfect pickup-line

So the situation is like this:

There are three of us somewhere in the bowels of Safaricom office in Nairobi, say... mid 2009. Erik, Dedy and I. We clicked on many levels, Kenyan, Indonesian and Pole. We used to drink and hang out together, we also were really high level experts in our respective fields. And you know - open office, tight deadlines, shitloads of issues with project... At one point the level of stress and abstraction rises to the point where you just need to vent.

So, at one point we pulled our chairs closer and started discussing what would be the best pickup line. Not something merely good and witty that would work 70% of the time, no. We wanted to find the perfect, ideal line.

A little background here first. Being a white dude in Kenya is... tough. You go to the pub and you look at all those babes and you think you are the king of the hill. No. In reality you are the prey. You are being hunted. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes sad, pathetic and sometimes scary. So just because of that I never had to try too much if I wanted to... well, you know - grab a drink and stike a nice abstract conversation about particle physics. After all this is what we all do in the pubs in exotic countries like Indonesia, Kenya, Philippines or even Thailand, right? Chaos theory, non-linear dynamic systems, superstrings, quantuum fluctuations and holopraphic principle, right?
What I am trying to say here - the quest for the perfect pickup line was not triggered by any real-life need.
Its just us - being engineers - we are always looking for ideal solution to given problem, right? Smooth and elegant. It just happened that the question of the day, you know, was what was the ideal pick up line...

So, first - some theory I based my approach on. I assumed approaching a total stranger. This should also be culture and race agnostic.

I think all I need is a hook to get past the first sentence. It does not have to be a big hook, I want a good starter line. Something that would engage woman on emotional level to the point, that willing or not - she would respond. No, not just respond - after all fuck off is also a response - she would engage on emotional level. So this had to strike such a deep sound with such an amplitude that it would resonate so strong that it would overpower any other prejudice a woman might have against having conversation with strangers.

So what is the thing that is the essence of pure bliss, warmth and safety and fun and excitement at the same time? Yup, you guessed it - wedding. So this gave me general direction. Also - until you actually go and do get married you think that this is THE day of your life, in reality there is more stress about auntie this and uncle that, if the cake will be perfect and if the dress won't get tangled during first tango... So perhaps it should not be wedding itself but just marriage in general? Yup, that's better, I guess there's my hook.

I seem to remember my pals had other ideas but we all eventually agreed the wedding question is the winner. We giggled over this for over an hour, like schoolboys planning on pulling some trick on the Math teacher, getting lotsa worried and disapproving looks from some of our friends. And then...

The test
I turned to Anne (in her 20s, it was before she hooked up with that SA kid and moved to JoBurg) sitting just a desk away and go:
Anne, we need your help. We came up with a pick up line and I want to see if this works. Can you be our test subject?
Of course she agreed, so I go:
Do you think that marriage is important in a relationship? and she says
Of course it is! this gives the foundation... Oh, you sneaky bastard! This is a good one
See what happened there? Even though she knew she was being tested she fell into the trap. Somehow the talk of marriage, especially to young and attractive women (who most probably did not that the disillusioning experience yet) just strikes where it need to be struck.

Afterword
I do not encourage to use this method to initiate conversation in order to have empty and meaningless sex with strangers. I encourage the engagement in interesting conversation. Who know, perhaps this babe just over there (no, not this one, the other one, the one in blue dress sipping on her mojito) is just finishing her PhD on neuropeptides?

Also - sometime later we went out with Erik and Dedy to grab some beers and then was the only time I decided to test it in non-lab situation. But the music was so loud in that place she did not hear the question and I was too tipsy to pursue.

So, there you have it. Now you are armed. But again - remember that with great power comes great responsibility...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On Drone Metal

Oh, Drone Metal, where have you been all my life?
Sample here

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On where trams go to sleep

I had this idea of this picture in my mind for some time... So decided today is the day. Took the gear, pipeful of Dunhill DeLuxe Navy Rolls and went to do it. Waited like an idiot for over an hour for these dudes to switch the lights inside... Eventually it got too dark outside and I did not get what I came for. The result is something totally different from what I envisioned. Oh well...

On bike helmets

Once I bought my beemer, I had to buy a helmet. I wanted something high(er)-end, eventually went with Shoei. Of course I bought the black one as I wanted the cool bad-ass look - you know, with black leather jacket, worn jeans and kikoy scarf ;-). Nobody told me to consider the fact that black gets hot. And, oh Buddha, it does. So I took my black helmet and tried to apply to it the skills I acquired while putting camouflage on my weapons. The result is here:


I'd say not bad for half an hour spray paintjob after 3 Urquells.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On Birankai Summer School

So many classes, so hot, so much sweat. You have to wash gi after every class...
Example here

Now, wait a minute...
What is that last gi hanging on?
Oh yes, you are right. This is AI AWM ;-)
Yes, Piotr gave me his gi to dry and I ran out of hanger space.
LOL

Friday, July 11, 2014

On knives

Before I start - a story.

- So, you collect knives? You are very dangerous person!
- Would I be less dangerous if I collected female lingerie?

So yes, I like knives. Have had lotsa of them, they just come and go. Big, small, curved, straight, fixed, folders, tactical, throwers, traditional - ultra-modern... you name it - I had it all.

Yet there is this one thing on the market that scares the living shit outta me. Meet Microtech Jagdkommando:

This thing just plain gives me creeps.

Friday, July 4, 2014

On wak - take two

As I mentioned sometime ago - I got myself a mumei Bizen koto wakizashi in shirasaya:




And quite naturally I was unable to use it for anything (as shirasaya is not meant to be used), so I had it mounted:




Had asked to have slightly longer tsuka, now it looks more ballanced, also feels better in hand.
Fuchi/kashira are Higo school, from mid-Edo, menuki is shishi, also Edo.
Still looking for proper tsuba, this one is a modern gap-filer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On my newest toy

Inspired by a friend of a friend i got myself a didgeridoo.
I used to played one like 20 years ago, decided its time to give it another go.

Its hornbeam, its long and beautiful. Really dramatic and impressive instrument. Bought from dijdrak.

And - oh yeah, behind me on the wall it is Nakuru lake picture I took in 2012.

Monday, June 2, 2014

More on my nidan

Thanks to Kasia I have most of my exam documented on video.
Piotr was kind enough to edit this long and uneventful thing into something more palatable.

I was testing with Maciek. Both passed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nidan

Just in case you missed it - pictures from my nidan exam are available. Thanks to Sylwia

Monday, May 26, 2014

On friends you meet on the way

One of the best things in Aikido are people you grow to like and depend on. Like family. Perhaps even better than family.
Here two pics of Edi and me, some one month apart:

Manolo San Miguel seminar:

Daniel Brunner seminar, after Nidan exam:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On those priceless memories...

San Diego 2007, O'Sensei's memorial potlock

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On collection update

Here, here, here...

Left to right:
Bugei Bamboo katana (forged 2005)
Wakasa Fuyuhiro katana (NTHK papered, forged 1561)
Bizen Osafune mumei koto wakizashi (forged XVI century, shirasaya)
AI AWM
HK 416
Barnett Veangance (yes, the main string is removed ;-)
LAN outlet... not networked, but still dangerous
220V AC power outlet... live, very dangerous

Monday, March 17, 2014

On some long, long overdue story with a twist

Update on 21.03.2014
Perhaps I did not make it clear enough - this story happened long time ago, around 2009/2010. Not really sure as in my age and with my load of memories this all gets blurred and fades way too quickly.
This very dramatic relationship did not survive the test of time. All I am left with is those memories which I can share here (plus the missing cows, dammit)

Original post:
I was very much in love with Alison. We have lived together for some time in Nairobi, then I proposed, she accepted. Got a white gold ring with a diamond... You know - everything by the book. We were happy (well, I was - can't speak for Ally).

Then there was the issue of family and African tradition of dowry, but this is a story for another day.

What I want to tell about is the engagement party.

See, Alison decided it was time for me to meet family. So with help of her sisters she organized a party on our rooftop. There were 80-odd people, some of her family, some friends.

The (then) happy couple:

June cooked, Shanice spread her charm, eldest sis, Lynne, took care of music and entertained everyone (she's a party animal)... Since I had nothing better to do - I just slowly got more and more mellow on Tusker Malts. And thank gods for that for this is when the speeches started. I might have mentioned this before, but Kenyans have something about speeches. OMG, that was long, boring and quite uneventful. Perhaps had I known the people being mentioned or known why this uncle does not like this auntie... well, still this was excessive.

Here uncle Raila does his speech:

It was all going its own course till at one point all the aunties got up and started singing. I though to myself - another of those African traditions I would never understand... The aunties made a ring around Alison and started dressing her in this garment, also put this bead bands on her neck and her head... At the same time Ally's father - Sam - got me dressed in the Masai blanket and gave me a bow and a quiver with arrows.

I think we both were shocked, though I think Alison might have suspected something...

All the while the party was going on, you know - the usual: food (delicious, thanks to June), drinks, music, small and big talk, stupid jokes, smokes and all.

The newly (now officially) engaged couple:

Now, here's the kicker.

Some time later I was driving around with my friend from office, Erik, and he asked me if we can go out for a beer later that evening. I calculated I did not have Aikido classes to teach this day so I said:
- Let me discuss with my fiancee
The he goes:
- You mean your wife?
And I go consistently:
- No, I mean my fiancee...
For which he says:
- Dude, you got the bow and arrows? - I nodded - Then you are married.
I laughed and dismissed the issue, but later that day I asked Alison:
- Are we engaged (as in fiancees) or are we married (as in - wife and husband)?
She thought for a while and said:
- Yup, we're pretty much done...
And then I exploded. It's not that I did mind, but perhaps someone would care to notify me? So that I do not find out that I am married from a friend in the office while discussing the beer plans?

It was funny as hell.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

On perfect couple

I know, I know - boring. But I have found my soul-mate, after decades of searching on several continents... found her. So please forgive my single-mindedness. If you don't like it - well, bad luck.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On serious relationship

Well, to make it really simple: That's my rifle that is my wife...
Well, actually both of them, LOL

Top: HK 416 + 4x32 + laser target designator (because I also have short CQB barrel, then I replace 4x32 with Aimpoint T1 and silencer with Noveske KX3 flash suppressor)
Bottom: Accuracy International AWM chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum with 6-24x56, camo by author

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On expensive watches

So the most fundamental question is usually - why?

Well, this might be pretty simple. Women can wear rings, ear-rings, nose-rings, eyebrow studs, pendants, hair clips and all other sort of bling. For us, guys, especially if you are into any serious physical activity (like, say... aikido) - you can't. So our expensive watches is the only real jewelry we can wear.

My current pick is Panerai 372.

Of course there is the issue of the price. But generally - Panerai makes the most elegant and down-to-business looking timepieces I ever came across. They have this elegant look of very efficient military tools like 1911A1, Humvee, F18F or SSN22 (of course, most of you have not the foggiest idea of what I am talking about, LOL).

Yet perhaps I would like the 372 as composite version (see this), you would wish some other designs of Radiomirs and Luminors were available. Something even more to my liking.

And this is where things start to get funny.

You see, there seem to be a huge demand for fake Panerai timepieces. Well, that is a given, right? But there is even demand for fake pieces of Panerai that Panerai never made. Exmple? Panerai 29076. It is like Luminor 372 only its Radiomir. And AFAIK - Panerai never made a piece like this. So now you can buy a fake Panerai copy of a Panerai that never was. How cool is that? And - is that a copy? A copy of what? ROTFL...

For more on Luminor 372 please visit this page. I started saving money...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

On Indonesia, again

Having lived in Kenya for 5 years and now having been around Indonesia for several weeks some comparisons are inevitable.

See, both countries lie on Equator.

Indonesia has over-1000 year old dramatic temples still standing today and testifying to their cultural and spiritual development. Multiple religions, cultures, kingdoms left their lasting imprint and create very rich background for whatever is happening in Indonesia now. Its impossible to move around and not bump into these artifacts of old past.

Kenya, which claims to be the cradle of mankind, has not produced any culture, no literature, no history. Nothing. Its not even a black hole which swallowed some of Kenya's past. There has not been anything. It's Tabula Rasa.

This is actually interesting. Two countries with practically the same environment produce such dramatically different results over last millennium. Why?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Indonesian temples

Well, we have almost the whole set there: Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists. Only Jews are missing.

The biggest of them all is Borobudur. Beautiful, though very, very crowded. I walked around on all 10 levels of Boddhisatva, so I should be liberated from samsara. Well, it's Mahayana ;-)

Then there is Prambanan, which is described as one of biggest Hindu temples in SE Asia. Well, whoever said this - for sure did not visit Angkor Wat. I would not say Prambanan was disappointing, but it surely did not live up to all the hype, as Hindu sacred sites rarely do it for me. In Malaysia I learned to not expect too much so I hardly ever get disappointed.

And then there is, of course, Balinese Hinduism with their characteristic folklore. Very interesting, though I still do not get Hinduism. Yet the sheer volume of the temples on Bali is impressive. Makes this a very nice place to visit, as you speed on the moped passing all the rice fields and gazillion temples there...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Krakatau

Why? I think this is pretty obvious - the biggest explosion on Earth in recorded history.

The four of us (with Dedy) spend a very cold and uncomfortable night there, also had what might have been the best grilled fish I have ever had, prepared by our guide.

Here you can see lava outflows from 2013

And here the fumes still rising from the recent flows:

Now, different sources give different info, but assuming that the volcano grows up to 6m a year then its not inconceivable that during our night there it grew over 1cm. And - as Dedy put it - the whole idea of sleeping on an island which is younger than 90 years is a bit... unsettling.

Monday, January 20, 2014

On Singapore

Escalators, escalators everywhere...

And also - temple with Buddha's tooth:

Just a few more city sights are here.