Wednesday, November 28, 2007

L is for Late (or Latte)

So I am a bit late in posting this time around, after such a good run of being on time. It's presently 3:4o AM, and I think the espresso I had earlier this evening is what accounts for my current state of consciousness.

Right now, Mona Lisa Smile is showing on the T.V. before me, and this movie is bloody painful in just about every way. Julia Roberts. Ugh.

I am going to keep this one short and say that I have been enjoying encouraging my brother-in-law Andy to follow his sense desire to go "off the grid" and move to adventure town or BFE, wherever that may be. Nearly every day he updates me on the latest far-flung properties perching on a mountain top in the middle of nowhere. It's almost always somewhere more crazy than the last time, and so it goes.

Well, I think I better try playing chess and hopefully become woozelly and lull myself to sleep.

Until next time. Over and out.


Monday, November 19, 2007

C is Juice Factor...

Well, for some people it's the 11th hour, but for me it's the 23rd. It's still Monday, barely.

This past weekend, our trip to the Mountains turned into a trip to Culpepper, or as Agnes, my old land-lady used to say, Cul-pep-pa. Not only did she have an accent, she remembered when her daddy and his dad used to sit out on the front porch and watch the people driving their horses or Model Ts on an old Indian Path into Fredericksburg. Wow.

So Clare and I had our first foray into downtown Culpepper this weekend, where we actually got out and walked the main drag. Apparently, we picked a good weekend for this trip, as the town was having their Christmas Open-House Kick Off or something like that, albeit one week before the traditional start time. I didn't complain too much, though, as segments of the evening's brass ensemble played Christmas tunes outside for shoppers and villagers alike. It was actually pretty classy.

And that's just it. Culpepper is now classy. Too classy? That's not for me to say, but I seem to remember a time when Culpepper was the po-dunk backwater of Northern Virginia, home of the slack-jawed and the snaggletoothed. Now it is something of a country retreat for the cultured and coiffured, a reality natives probably didn't much expect 1o years ago or so, but these are different times.

In fact, if you are misfortunate enough to find yourself even farther south in Charlottesville on 29 during rush hour, you know these are different times. At least an hour away from anywhere, Charlottesville, home of prestigious UVA and Monticello, causes sheer disbelief when the roads become clogged with automobiles galore.

Anyway, my point is the landscape of Virginia has changed massively. It's not all bad, particularly in Culpepper. For such a small, Old Town area, there's a bit of everything, though mostly of interest to Northern Virginia types. Foti, an off-shoot restaurant of the Inn at Little Washington, is in the heart of town. The Camaleer, a boutique with interesting imports from continents that start with the letter "a" is fun to peruse. And there's a passable coffee shop, a nifty looking, 50s style corner cafe, and a chic French culinary establishment.

So that was our weekend. I had actually wanted to visit Wolfton too, to find a new home for us and our dog, but apparently the town has exceeded its wolf-quota, so the door--there was only one--was politely but firmly closed and we were unable to buy there.

I think we are going to bide our time, then, and buy around Chi-town instead.

Over and out.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Sensei's question...

So this extended weekend has been an active one, so much so that Friday seems like weeks ago. On Friday I drove down to Richmond twice, once to take my CFC EPA 608 test to do refrigerant stuff, and again later that evening to buy Clare a new violin for Christmas.

Both trips were important, but that did not mean on Saturday morning I was let off easy. I met Chris T. at 7:30 AM at the dojo to go through some sections of his blackbelt test. Believe me, I was not pumped to get thrown over someone's hip 15 times. I know how to take the fall and all, but it was more a question of Chris learning the throw. Luckily for me, Chris' painful and uncertain hip throws had improved dramatically since this past Tuesday, where I was tossed into oblivion while my partner was left scratching his head.

The good news is that, in the end, we were able to work out the kinks in his technique, which in turn made taking the falls much more pleasant and exciting.

Anyway, I just wanted to sleep in on Saturday, but by the end of our practice and the following class I was digging it and everything felt well-worth it. I came home and then grabbed some movies, wings to go and a few replacement light bulbs for the Jeep. That night we watched Shooter, which was surprisingly good and reinspired me to live on a mountain top.

Sunday I was happy to sleep in, finally--I seem to have inherited Clare's morning fogginess by proxy. Lovely. So I pounded down some coffee, happily, as well as my mother-in-laws egg-vegetable medley and some corn muffins. At 1PM, I met Chris T. again at the dojo for a full run-through of his test. Everything went well, and at the end, Sensei asked me a question:

"So what are you going to do, between now and Chris's test, to build up your wind capacity?"

LOL. This kind of caught me by surprise, but I rolled with it. I know I need to work on my endurance levels, I always do, but I answered the question nonetheless. "Well, I am going on a hike tomororow!" which brought a rounding good laugh.

And this brings me to the subject of this Update. What am I to do? Well, I did go on a small hike today with Clare and the baby through the beautiful and winding Alum Springs Park in Fredericksburg. I carried Anastasia on my back in her Kelty carrier and felt great. Maybe that's because last weekend, I got my butt totally kicked at Prince William County park doing the same thing for a longer and more difficult hike.

I guess my point is that when we are active and actually stay active, not only do we feel better, but also we carry the benefits of our previous activity with us into the next day. It's usually easier to keep up the juice factor if you keep going than if you stop, wait a while, and then start again. You lose a ton of momentum and it feels like cruel and unusual punishment.

Because I have been a once-a-weeker at Aikido, I almost always feel like I am starting all over again by the next class, in terms of stamina and endurance. But this weekend, where I did something every day that was vigorous and active, I not only feel better in the present, but was able to carry the benefits of those activities into each successive action.

Chris's test is in less than 3 weeks. Between now and then, I will make an effort to be more active to make it through our seminar and Chris's test. Hopefully, I will get to do a crazy-ass hike between now and then too.

We shall see.

Over and out.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Glock Talk

Nice, eh?

Well, you wouldn't believe it, but there is actually a website called To the left is a beautiful picture of a most righteous Glock 21, .45 caliber, in action. I spent some time this weekend researching this and other pistols, so I have been inspired to post and talk a bit about guns.

When I was kid, about the age of 7 or 8, though, my dad did his best to discourage all my talk about guns. I used to go on and on ad nauseum, the way kids do sometimes, about how much I liked and wanted an arsenal of firearms. Finally, one day my dad asked me why I liked guns so much. My answer, well, they kill people.

That wasn't exactly a good response, especially for my dad. The last thing he wanted was for his son to brandish play guns, dreaming of blowing things up, which, of course, is what I did. I used to carry play guns in the car and shoot at make-believe targets as we drove by. I guess I was practicing for my daily commute along I-95.

But eventually I gave up my love of guns (temporarily) because of my father's opposition to them. But he wasn't really opposed, the way anti-gunners are, he just didn't want his son turning to the dark side.

I suppose, though, it doesn't get any darker than Glock.

Many have argued that guns take lives and that the only people who really need them are the police. That is a nice thought, but it is suitable only for Utopias and authoritarian regines. Human nature is wounded, and so people do bad things. It is sure a blessing that many of us, hopefully, have not experienced first-hand an extremely violent crime, but it does not mean those things do not happen.

Ultimately, I believe law-abiding citizens should be allowed to own and carry a firearm for their and others protection. However, it is surely the decision of each individual whether they choose to excercise that freedom.

As for me, I already own a shotgun, which was, as funny as it sounds, an awesome-awesome wedding gift. Now it's time to pump up the action, if you know what I mean.

Over and out.