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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas 2014

On December 22nd, at 5:13 pm, I received a text from my eldest brother telling me that my father was taken to the hospital by ambulance. My world was turned upside down in that instant. I was distraught. I could barely type an email to my boss to let him know I had to leave town earlier than was planned.

I was texting back-and-forth with my brother trying to figure out if I should head to North Bay that night or wait until the morning. Freezing rain was on its way to both Ottawa and North Bay and I was trying to miss that. Weather sites indicated that the freezing rain was due around midnight in Ottawa, so I decided to quickly finish packing and grab what food I needed from the store and home. It's not as simple for me as it is with other people to travel as I'm sensitive to a few foods and they're in a lot of things. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, which was nearly nothing. I had everything packed and ready to go by 7:15 pm and proceeded to leave town, or attempted to. My c…

Coming Home

It's that time of the year where I travel to visit my family as I'm not from Ottawa. I was born in North Bay, Ontario and I still have a lot of friends that live there. I always enjoy the trip home in the warmer months as the northern landscape is often breathtaking. I won't see much of that beauty on this trip, but at least this year I have my snow tires on. Last year I felt extremely lucky to be alive by the time I reached my parent's home. If the freezing rain hasn't started, I'll leave town soon, but I may have to postpone by a day.

Books and knitting are probably coming with me. Also ice skates, snow shoes, and winter wear. My parents don't have the Internet, so keeping busy with a variety of activities is key to staying sane during the holidays. I don't mind disconnecting though. I get out and see friends that I haven't seen in several months. I often get to do a lot because parking is pretty much a non-issue there.

While this post is about my t…

Blog Hop!

Well it looks like it's time for me to pop my blog hopping cherry!
I was tagged by Nicole Lavigne to share a recipe. Linda Poitevin started this whole thing. I've tagged Isobel Adams to share a recipe on her blog next week. I tried to tag more, but they were already tagged or are either bakers who don't blog or bloggers who don't bake. Clearly, the world needs more blogging bakers.
This is actually a daunting task for me given that I cannot consume dairy, eggs, or yeast. I regularly get asked how I'm still alive. What's my answer? I eat almost everything else (save seaweed, grapefruit, and some sea foods because yuck) that is not related to those things, which is challenging, but not impossible. Mostly I stick to fresh things, but who doesn't love a cookie, pie, or cake now-and-then?
It's a good thing that I'm not one for running from challenges or I would have starved by now. I'm constantly discovering new tricks like bun-less hamburgers that have…

Ikkyu Grading

Iaido has a different grading system than other arts. We don't have a belt system; our belts are simply to keep our hakama up and our katana in the right place.

How do we do ranking in the dojo? You just know who's ranked higher than you are and line up appropriately. If you don't know, you err on the side of them being higher than you. Within ranks age also plays a factor. If needed, seniority can go as granular as the day you first came to the dojo to train.

That being said, the ranking system is:

No Kyu
Ikkyu - 1st Kyu
Shodan - 1st Dan
Nidan - 2nd Dan
Sandan - 3rd Dan
Yondan - 4th Dan
Godan - 5th Dan*
Rokudan - 6th Dan
Shichidan - 7th Dan
Hachidan - 8th Dan
Kudan - 9th Dan
Jūdan - 10th Dan

So in essence we go from white belt to brown belt and skip the ranks that are in between in other arts. I believe this is because we swing swords around and even someone who hasn't done the art extremely long can kill someone with a sword, thereby making them more dangerous than the average inex…

Workshop: How to Complete your Soul

I've been reading a lot of things on spirituality partly for a novel I am writing, but it didn't start out that way. I've been on my own spiritual journey for a while now. Tonight I attended a workshop on the things one needs to work on in order to complete their soul. The ChunHwa Centre gives these workshops monthly for an amount you decide to donate ($5, $10, whatever you feel like). He said you have to be scientific and methodical about it. Meditation can help you get there, but only if you are focused.

He talked about good and bad stress and how much of the time the stress is necessary for growth or is simply a result of natural bodily function (eating causes stress on our digestive system). We talked about how the key to stress was understanding the underlying cause. After that it's all about good coping techniques. He liked to joke around a bit and would say things like the only way to get rid of stress was to die.

We talked about health as a goal for meditation an…

NaNoWriMo

Well I’m hip deep in NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month. November to some means growing facial hair for charity and for slightly insane people like me we take on the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s the end of the 18th day and I’m doing well with 33, 146 words into my romantic fantasy novel, The Page & The Magician, which is a mix of deeply spiritual concepts, modern dating woes, and fantastical characters like a green-skinned, voluntarily beardless dwarf who bakes muffins. And of course, there is sex and glorious battles too. Much of the book happens in Ottawa, Ontario with segues into places I haven’t decided upon yet.
This is actually more than I have written on another novel that I’ve been working on for 4 years. I feel a bit ashamed at myself for that, but I know what has been a key differentiator for me with this new novel: character development. Prior to starting November, I used D.N. Frost’s character tarot and did an extremely thorough mapping of…

November!!!!

November is nearly upon me. This means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This means 30 days where I attempt to write 50,000 words while working 9 to 5, attending several martial arts seminars and classes in preparation for December grading, and try to keep up with other life things.
I've read it's important to reward oneself, so on my list is:
1. A deck of Tarot cards.
2. ???
3. Digital bunny ears. (Might wait for a sale)
4. A "Best Brass" trumpet mute.
So I might drop off the planet for many people this month. I'll be slow to answer texts and I'm going to avoid Facebook. I will tweet the odd thing that will update Facebook for me, but my goal this month is to see how much I can do in 30 days if I cut down my social media time and really focus on my writing.
I've been looking forward to starting this new story. It's been hard to resist starting ahead of the November 1st start date. I worry that I will finally be allowed to write and the words will be…

2014 Can-Con: Day One

I arrived at Can-Con full of excitement and wonder. Unlike many other cons in Ottawa, I knew a fair amount of the attendees and the panelists, so it felt exactly like I belonged.
The first panel I had wanted to attend was to be a debate between two Ottawa-area authors on whether short-fiction or novels are better. The panel was unfortunately canceled as one panelist was delayed, so I instead attended the panel on Medical Science Fiction and Biological Engineering, which was moderated by Julie Czerneda, presented by Alison Sinclair and Agnes Cadieux. There were discussions on things like stem cells and how they may test on human stem cells eventually rather than on mice or people. The potential implications of getting your own genome scanned for diseases you are predisposed to developing was another topic. There was speculation that since technology is becoming cleaner than anything biological and given that humans are already beginning to implant their bodies with birth control and dia…

I played the Kijiji game today

So I've been wanting an asian room divider, but not wanting to pay $500+ for it. I was drawn to Kijiji this morning to search for this. I stumbled on one that was hand-painted and I snagged it for $175. The photos don't even do it justice. The Japanese figures on it are actually raised, which adds texture to this already beautiful piece that will be my headboard once my friend helps me take it out of my car and I clean it up a bit. The lady who owned it has a cat, so I need to get rid of any lingering catness.


I'm super excited :)
This has been one of those homeowner moments.
Happy Friday! Psst... 8 days to NaNoWriMo!!!!!
Ciao,
R~

The Day After

I'm still working on my post on how I felt about my first Can-Con, but this one feels more important.

Yesterday was a terrible day in our nation's capital.

I'm upset that people I know were so close to the situation on parliament hill as it was unfolding, that they could've been harmed and I could've been reading about a loved one.

I'm not scared for my life as an Ottawa resident. I feel like the response was quick and the situation didn't drag on for days unlike the incident in Moncton earlier this same year.

It annoyed me to read people tweeting that they thought it took too long for police to respond to the scene, though I get that they were scared. Everyone just wanted the shooting to stop and to know what was going on. Having worked at a police station, I can say that officers aren't always 100% ready for a situation of that magnitude. Some may have been eating lunch, been on their sanctioned break, been intaking someone for another crime, been in the …

Can-Con 2014 (Oct 3-5)

The list of panels I planned on going to was altered slightly based on panel cancellations and me changing my mind. Here is the list I went to with a few takeaways from each:






Medical Science Fiction & Biological Engineering [Alison Sinclair, Julie Czerneda, Agnes Cadieux]
- Life will find a way.
- Some efforts to improve things in the world don’t want publicity.
How to Get Traditionally Published [Max Turner, Matt Moore, Matthew Johnson, Alison Sinclair, Julie Czerneda]
- Avoid writing purply prose (over-using adjectives).
- Stay away from people like book coaches who just want to take advantage of you. Check out sites like Writer Beware.
- 35,100 words is often where it gets annoying to write.
RPGs: How the Industry has Changed, Open Gaming Licenses and Breaking in [Geoff Gander, Alice Black]
- You can’t copyright a game system.
- 4 Styles:
1. Event Based
2. Location Based
3. Story Based
4. Crisis Management
- The world is still happening when characters aren’t there, but the characters have to…

Where have I been?

Hi! Sorry, I've not been blogging lately. Why not? Well...

I've been painting my condo living/dining room. The living room has two walls left and the dining room also has two walls left.

I also caught up on some TV shows I happen to enjoy. I'm not ashamed to admit that I watch television from time-to-time. I enjoy stories and the medium doesn't have to be limited to text for me to enjoy them.

I've been reading books by other Ottawa-area authors.

I've also been writing... sort of. Well, planning to write may be more accurate. I've been pondering my NaNoWriMo piece and intend to come up with a plan for it soon. I've started putting a plan together for a sci-fi conspiracy story that's been rattling around in my head.

And, I've been stuck.

My main novel, whose working title is, "Scion," has had me stuck for a little while. Here are the reasons why, I think:

1. This first reason I feel rather silly about. I had a character tell my protagonist to g…

Double Wedding and Roy Family Reunion

Daddy and I trekked up to Northern Québec on the weekend. After Témiscaming, on the way to Laniel, there was no cellular service. This was the second time in my life, since owning a cell phone, that I've ever lost service completely. The first time involved a trip to Smoky Falls, which is an Ontario Power Generation site in between Kapuskasing and Moosonee. I don't mind losing service as I enjoy getting away from technology and just kicking it with nature. I checked periodically for service out of curiosity and in case we ran into any trouble, so I'd know where to run to and call for help. Around km 42, I started to see hints of service. It was just a tease though. The roads were full of hills, twists, and rock cuts. My dad says when you have a rock cut on either side of you, it's called "Hell's Gate". He's Catholic.

I lost service again by St-Édouard-de-Fabre. It became farmlands. Gas prices were insane! 138.9 for regular and diesel was oddly the same…

Tachi Uchi No Kurai

I mentioned in a previous post that I enjoy Iaido, but can't put why into words yet. Apparently there is a word for that and it is alexithymia.

Once per month, my club does "Tachi Uchi No Kurai". We worked on the Koryū set on Sunday, which has 10 kata as part of it. The 10 are named as follows:

1. Ippon-me Deai
2. Nihon-me Tsukekomi
3. Sanbon-me Ukenagashi
4. Yonhon-me Ukekomi
5. Gohon-me Tsukikage
6. Ropon-me Suigetsutō
7. Nanahon-me Zetsumyōken
8. Hachihon-me Dokumyōken
9. Kyuhon-me Shinmyōken
10. Juppon-me Uchikomi

Tachi Uchi No Kurai is partner practice done with a Bokuto (wooden sword).

During Ukenagashi I was working with one of our new members, and he blocked somewhat correctly then moved his sword for some reason and I nailed him in the head due to the tension of my sword against the tension of his block, which suddenly disappeared. I think he learned what not to do when blocking.

We worked on 1 through 3. Here is a video that shows the set. It may not be exactly the way we do…

I'm not perfect, but I'm working on it... sort of.

Simple Plan's song "Perfect" is one that continues to speak to me on multiple levels.

I try to improve myself daily.

I meet people who judge me for various reasons. Mostly, I believe they are waging their own war inside and I just met them at the wrong time.

People who have severely wronged me, I forgive. Not immediately, but over time. Time doesn't lessen what they did, but allows me to experience things that lets me view situations in new light and bring about the understanding that their issues were probably more with themselves though my own reactions didn't help whatever the situation was either. I once dated a boy who cheated on me, tried to turn everyone I knew against me, then decided he would try to kill himself if I wouldn't go back to him. I called the police. I was 15 and at the time I swore he did all of that to punish me for breaking up with him after I met his other girlfriend. These days I realize he had his own crazy stuff going on inside that w…

I want to eat my cake!

I'm glad I was able to rearrange some things in life to make more room for Iaido. At class they went through techniques to strengthen my wrists, which will help me wield my sword better. There's the side-to-side movement, the up-and-down movement (regular), the up-and-down movement (back), and the one-handed cut. There may have been more, but my brain only allows so much in during the 8-9pm window after a long day of work.

This was to help me improve my Ippon-me Mae technique as I have been focusing too much on the cut and not on the draw when the cut is really supposed to be a small wrist movement instead of a giant swing of the arm. I should get the sword unsheathed, then flick the wrist in warning rather than attempt to harm the attacker right off, and then come down on the centerline and cut them severely.

My sword made noise several times! The problem I am having seems to be that when I can do a cut that makes noise, I can't stop at the right target and vice versa. Some…

My First Time Teaching

So, unbeknownst to three of us, class was cancelled on Sunday. I was the most senior student present and the newer students wanted to practice anyway and voted that I lead them through kata. With that came a mix of honour and terror. I'm a no rank... I shouldn't be teaching anything. One of them talked me into it given that I've been practicing the art for a year now.

I led them through etiquette slowly as it's one of those areas I struggle with despite how simple it should be.

We didn't do an extensive amount of work on Ippon-me Mae or Nihon-me Ushiro as they felt they knew those the best. We lingered on Sanbon-me Ukenagashi, Yonhon-me Tsuka-ate, and Gohon-me Kesagiri. I tried to explain the scenarios as best as I could. I didn't know the grading points well enough to be able to critique them.

We spent the most time on the standing kata as one of them had sore knees. We did each standing kata about 5 times. I forgot the name of the eighth kata (Happon-me Ganmen-a…

A fool and his money...

Today's proverb is, "A fool and his money are soon parted."

This proverb implies that foolish people spend money carelessly. I disagree. What may seem careless to one, is not to another. Some people are more simple than others. The things they like may be collecting DVDs and comic books, so if a windfall happens to them, they are likely to spend the money on furthering their collections and maybe some on repaying debt. One doesn't have to understand why a person might place great enjoyment in such things. Spending money on something you enjoy isn't a waste. In my opinion, spending money on things you don't enjoy is a waste. If one is in the habit of going to social events simply because it would look bad if they didn't go, and they have a bad time, doesn't that imply they are a fool? Each of us has a finite number of hours to live. We don't know our number, only that our time will eventually run out. Why foolishly waste time judging others instead …

A bad workman...

Today's proverb is, "A bad workman blames his tools."

I don't fully agree with this. There is merit to it as some people just look for excuses to avoid doing something. There are valid reasons to having the right tool though.

Take process mapping, for example. Yes, one can process map by hand or use paper-based methods involving sticky notes (I've seen it), but at some point it becomes rather cumbersome to maintain and a realization that the paper could become damaged and a lot of work could be lost, occurs. Sticky notes fall off. Plus, it's hard to share a very large paper copy with others without them having to come to a specific site to see it. Putting it into a computer-based tool like Visio becomes a necessity. Not all versions of Visio are created equal. Some versions one may spend inordinate amounts of time trying to get something to work, where a newer version lets you document the process in seconds because they constantly improve the tool.

Yes, you can…

Tameshigiri - Summer 2014

In preparation for tameshigiri, Green Sensei rolled and soaked straw mats overnight.



The water helps make the mats feel more like a human body, which is important as Tameshigiri is test cutting. Tameshigiri is where we see how close our technique is to being applicable should we need to whip out our swords and cut something.

Last year, I simply did 2 or 3 cuts. This year, I tested out several specific cuts.

I tested out the horizontal cut that is employed in Ippon-me Mae. This one was done well according to Green Sensei.

The rest of my cuts had issues. I appear to have trouble with following through in my cuts, so my blade would hack into the mats rather than slice nicely. If you're hacking with a katana, you're not doing it right.

I tested out the first cut from Gohon-me Kesagiri, and it was a fail. I wasn't close enough to make proper contact.

I did a centerline cut and the sword got stuck in the mats. I was about to attempt to pull the blade out the way we do for Kyuhon-me So…

Birth

I feel like I have a special connection to Lauryn Hill's song "To Zion".

My mom was told to abort me for health reasons. She had previously had a heart attack and the doctor didn't think her heart could withstand a pregnancy. My mom stubbornly refused. Having a little girl was important to her and she was adamant that I was a girl though it was too early to know such a thing. Thanks for being stubborn mom; it literally saved my life.

I was an 80s baby. I grew up in a time when it was nothing to send your kid to buy your smokes and penny candies cost 1 cent, back when the penny still existed before they started taxing them. We rarely played inside the house or needed gadgets to amuse ourselves. Hide-and-seek, truth-or-dare, and random shenanigans like skinny dipping were common forms of entertainment. Sure we played video games like space invaders, pole position, and frogger, but mostly we preferred to hang out in nature. At least before Nintendo and Mario came along.

Pe…

I didn't drop off the face of the Earth.

I've been having adventures lately, so I haven't been writing about proverbs or anything. Sorry if you were looking for them.

This weekend I visited a friend in Peterborough, Ontario. Peterborough is a lovely city with an unfortunate lack of jobs and a coinciding high incidence of drug usage. There are around 11 methadone clinics there. The province opens more clinics rather than bringing in companies that can give jobs. The social workers are busy, but not paid well. It would be wonderful if this issue could be fixed. The surrounding area is full of gorgeous lakes, fertile farm lands, and lush greenery. The people there are friendly and there is a strong sense of community despite the drug problem.

I had a lovely time with my friend and his family. They truly care about the planet and try to reuse anything they find rather seeing it go to waste. I think that's awesome. They also have a bee colony that pollinates their own vegetable garden! Unfortunately, the bee colony co…

Kenshokan Visit - July 26, 2014

I visited a friend in Peterborough, Ontario this weekend. Peterborough is a lovely city with an unfortunate lack of employment. It's located in the Land of Lakes or Kawarthas in Ontario.

From 9 am to Noon, we practiced Iaido. This is double the length of my usual practice time, so I am a bit sore today. Apparently, part of my soreness is likely related to having an incorrect, a.k.a. "Death Grip" on the tsuka (handle). My friend showed me how to fix it and it's similar to how one grips a steering wheel on a car. This should make my muscles less fatigued, stop my right hand from sliding, and improve my cutting technique.

I did a lot of work on Juppon-me Shihogiri. I need to ensure I am hitting low enough on the hand strike while keeping my heel on the ground, that my heels have the correct placement for the stab (my right heel is the issue), step with the left foot to make the first cut, stop pausing so much in between each movement as it's supposed to flow, and I th…

Lend your money and...

Today's proverb is, "Lend your money and lose your friend."

That could be true if your friend is only your friend because of superficial things.

Today I want to talk about one of my friends. She is a wonderful woman I have known since high school. She's highly intelligent and once upon a time was in medical school. She started having seizures. Brain tumour. Things didn't work out with her husband. That's not shocking as many relationships come upon too much strain when illness occurs and brain tumours can cause one to say nasty things they may not mean. After a time, they removed the tumour, but told her the seizures wouldn't stop completely, just lessen. A life of seizures was ahead of her. She met someone new and became pregnant. He turned abusive when she decided she wanted to keep the baby as it would likely be her only chance at motherhood. The pregnancy was challenging with the seizures and she had to take medications to stop them. She tried repeatedl…