My body has traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Muir Woods and Sonoma

Groth Winery in Sonoma, very nice place. A few years back when my wife was in the area on business, an FMA freind (Connie Fidel, student of Sonny Napiel)opened her home and showed her around. Her brother is one of the winemakers at Groth.

Robert Mondavi Winery
San Francisco Bay near Giardelli Square. I counted 6 people swimming laps. That's diehard in October

One of my all time favorite places and one I just had to visit again. Muir Woods National Park. A small pocket of redwoods just a short drive north of the bridge. I could spend hours here. (Except it's actually kinda cold and there was wine to taste.
Due to the low temperatures, lack of constant sunlight and lots of moisture, the moss is phenomenal!
A view from the hills leaving Muir, you can just see the Pacific. Interesting to be driving above the hawks riding the thermals.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Remember back in elementary school the teacher would have you go around the circle and drone on in front of class why you were thankful, ect, ect?
Yeah, we're not gonna do that.
But, since I have this blog, why not a bit here.


Yeah, friends are important to me and I'm very thankful for the good ones I have. Why? Because unlike relatives, you have to work at staying their friend (and vice versa).
Treat em like crap, don't stay in touch, borrow and don't return, hey, friends will tell you to piss off or just not keep in touch at all.
So, you have to work at the relationship. I've had friends for years that just seemed to stop responding. Well, I can't do all the work and maybe I was wrong.

So, the new one's I've made in the past year. This is not an exhaustive list, I don't spend a ton of time on this blog. Can't post daily like Bobbe.

Bobbe Edmonds - We've known each other but I got to see his smile (and those eyes -whoah) up close this year.
Terry Trahan - yeah we think alike in ways. You just know when you meet someone, there's that click
Cody Fielding - um, really can't put into words here. Thanks so much Cody.
Mike Blackgrave - I knew literally within 5 minutes of hearing Mike talk to someone we would be tight.
Chris, Gery and Boun at the dojo. The more I talk with them, the more I realize we're totally on the same page.

Folks I've known awhile and value their friendship

Dave Bennett Jr.- Living life large as an LEO in Vegas. So happy for you that's it's working out.
Dave Shepherd - My 2nd longest friend and first MA teacher. He needed a Hapkido uke and I wanted to learn TKD, hell anything. We were out of touch for awhile but recently hooked up again.
Paul Van Dort - My only childhood friend still in touch with. It was a rough year as we had to see each other when his father, a man I greatly admired and who had a strong influence on a young boy, died this year. It was at the funeral that I realized what an impact he really had on me.
John Bednarski - Your enthusiasm for life and MA can be exhausting, even for me!
The Moore's - Thanks for everything, really too much fun to summarize.
The Pippin's - for their friendship, counsel and the open door.
Bill Anderson - walking the walk and setting the example. I know he feels the same about friends.
Bill Bednarick - we've walked a lot of the same ground.
Tyrone Johnson - the most humble person I know and so much fun to travel with.
Guro Buzz Smith - known of Buzz for 20 years. But every time we get together he continues to exceed my expectations and be the man.
Mushtaq - Probably the best friend I've ever had and not on my terms either. Read somewhere that a friend should make you want to be a better person. That's an understatement. What you've done for/to me since we've met is immeasurable.
And yeah, my wife and children. It's been a tough year physically and emotionally and their love and support really made it happen. Especially when I didn't reciprocate.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More San Francisco

So, finally got a few more up.
So, Fisherman's Wharf and of course you have to take a picture of the Rock, although in all our visits we've never gone. Not that enticing that I want to waste 4hrs of a day where I could be doing and seeing so much more in SF.

Yeah, we rode the cable cars a bunch
And the Pacific. Words fail.

And of course you have to cross the GG bridge. So we rented a car for the day and headed north.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Yeah, you're not gonna find one of these in the local knickknack shop.
Going through some old files and found this one.
Went to Jamaica a few years ago and wood carvings by the local artists are one of the things you can pick up. They're really quite skilled.
I caught one of the locals who seemed dignified and was given a certain amount of deference by the other carvers and asked him to come back in a few days with a stickfighter and struck a pose for him.
I was curious to see his artistic take on it.
Not what I anticipated but I'm rather pleased with it. Got a nice short machete and a pair of local hardwood sticks too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When I become overlord!

So, Perry has advice for Spies and Monster movie characters.

Perhaps he refers to this list when writing because I haven't seen too much of this from him thankfully.

The Dungeon
I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me -- I'll do it myself.
I will not waste time making my enemy's death look like an accident -- I'm not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn't believe it.
I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word "mercy"; I simply choose not show them any.
My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere to any other dress codes.
I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad scientist to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he's caused.
If my supreme command center comes under attack, I will immediately flee to safety in my prepared escape pod and direct the defenses from there. I will not wait until the troops break into my inner sanctum to attempt this.
Even though I don't really care because I plan on living forever, I will hire engineers who are able to build me a fortress sturdy enough that, if I am slain, it won't tumble to the ground for no good structural reason.
Any and all magic and/or technology that can miraculously resurrect a secondary character who has given up his/her life through self sacrifice will be outlawed and destroyed.
I will see to it that plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes and with the accent of an outlander shall REGULARLY climb some monument in the main square of my capital and denounce me, claim to know the secret of my power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.
I will not employ devious schemes that involve the hero's party getting into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.
I will offer oracles the choice of working exclusively for me or being executed.
I will not rely entirely upon "totally reliable" spells that can be neutralized by relatively inconspicuous talismans.
I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard-sized. While elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.
I will never accept a challenge from the hero.
I will not engage an enemy single-handedly until all my soldiers are dead.
If I capture the hero's starship, I will keep it in the landing bay with the ramp down, only a few token guards on duty and a ton of explosives set to go off as soon as it clears the blast-range.
No matter how much I want revenge, I will never order an underling "Leave him. He's mine!"
If I have equipment which performs an important function, it will not be activated by a lever that someone could trigger by accidentally falling on when fatally wounded.
I will not attempt to kill the hero by placing a venomous creature in his room. It will just wind up accidentally killing one of my clumsy henchmen instead.
Since nothing is more irritating than a hero defeating you with basic math skills, all of my personal weapons will be modified to fire one more shot than the standard issue.
If I come into possession of an artifact which can only be used by the pure of heart, I will not attempt to use it regardless.
The gun turrets on my fortress will not rotate enough so that they may direct fire inward or at each other.
If I decide to hold a contest of skill open to the general public, contestants will be required to remove their hooded cloaks and shave their beards before entering.
Prior to kidnapping an older male scientist and forcing him to work for me, I will investigate his offspring and make sure that he has neither a beautiful but naive daughter who is willing to risk anything to get him back, nor an estranged son who works in the same field but had a falling-out with his father many years ago.
Should I actually decide to kill the hero in an elaborate escape-proof deathtrap room (water filling up, sand pouring down, walls converging, etc.) I will not leave him alone five-to-ten minutes prior to "imminent" death, but will instead (finding a vantage point or monitoring camera) stick around and enjoy watching my adversary's demise.
Rather than having only one secret escape pod, which the hero can easily spot and follow, I'll simultaneously launch a few dozen decoys to throw him off track.
Prison guards will have their own cantina featuring a wide variety of tasty treats that will deliver snacks to the guards while on duty. The guards will also be informed that accepting food or drink from any other source will result in execution.
I will not employ robots as agents of destruction if there is any possible way that they can be re-programmed or if their battery packs are externally mounted and easily removable.
Despite the delicious irony, I will not force two heroes to fight each other in the arena.
All members of my Legions of Terror will have professionally tailored uniforms. If the hero knocks a soldier unconscious and steals the uniform, the poor fit will give him away.
I will never place the key to a cell just out of a prisoner's reach.
Before appointing someone as my trusted lieutenant, I will conduct a thorough background investigation and security clearance.
If I find my beautiful consort with access to my fortress has been associating with the hero, I'll have her executed. It's regrettable, but new consorts are easier to get than new fortresses and maybe the next one will pay attention at the orientation meeting.
If I am escaping in a large truck and the hero is pursuing me in a small Italian sports car, I will not wait for the hero to pull up along side of me and try to force him off the road as he attempts to climb aboard. Instead I will slam on the brakes when he's directly behind me. (A rudimentary knowledge of physics can prove quite useful.)
My doomsday machine will have a highly-advanced technological device called a capacitor in case someone inconveniently pulls the plug at the last second. (If I have access to REALLY advanced technology, I will include a back-up device known as a battery.)
If I build a bomb, I will simply remember which wire to cut if it has to be deactivated and make every wire red.
Before spending available funds on giant gargoyles, gothic arches, or other cosmetically intimidating pieces of architecture, I will see if there are any valid military expenditures that could use the extra budget.
The passageways to and within my domain will be well-lit with fluorescent lighting. Regrettably, the spooky atmosphere will be lost, but my security patrols will be more effective.
If I'm sitting in my camp, hear a twig snap, start to investigate, then encounter a small woodland creature, I will send out some scouts anyway just to be on the safe side. (If they disappear into the foliage, I will not send out another patrol; I will break out the napalm.)
I will instruct my guards when checking a cell that appears empty to look for the chamber pot. If the chamber pot is still there, then the prisoner has escaped and they may enter and search for clues. If the chamber pot is not there, then either the prisoner is perched above the lintel waiting to strike them with it or else he decided to take it as a souvenir (in which case he is obviously deeply disturbed and poses no threat). Either way, there's no point in entering.
As an alternative to not having children, I will have lots of children. My sons will be too busy jockeying for position to ever be a real threat, and the daughters will all sabotage each other's attempts to win the hero.
If I have children and subsequently grandchildren, I will keep my three-year-old granddaughter near me at all times. When the hero enters to kill me, I will ask him to first explain to her why it is necessary to kill her beloved grandpa. When the hero launches into an explanation of morality way over her head, that will be her cue to pull the lever and send him into the pit of crocodiles. After all, small children like crocodiles almost as much as Evil Overlords and it's important to spend quality time with the grandkids.
If one of my daughters actually manages to win the hero and openly defies me, I will congratulate her on her choice, declare a national holiday to celebrate the wedding, and proclaim the hero my heir. This will probably be enough to break up the relationship. If not, at least I am assured that no hero will attack my Legions of Terror when they are holding a parade in his honor.
I will order my guards to stand in a line when they shoot at the hero so he cannot duck and have them accidentally shoot each other. Also, I will order some to aim above, below, and to the sides so he cannot jump out of the way.
My dungeon cell decor will not feature exposed pipes. While they add to the gloomy atmosphere, they are good conductors of vibrations and a lot of prisoners know Morse code.
If my surveillance reports any un-manned or seemingly innocent ships found where they are not supposed to be, they will be immediately vaporized instead of brought in for salvage.
I will classify my lieutenants in three categories: untrusted, trusted, and completely trusted. Promotion to the third category will be awarded posthumously.
Before ridiculing my enemies for wasting time on a device to stop me that couldn't possibly work, I will first acquire a copy of the schematics and make sure that in fact it couldn't possibly work.
Ropes supporting various fixtures will not be tied next to open windows or staircases, and chandeliers will be hung way at the top of the ceiling.
I will provide funding and research to develop tactical and strategic weapons covering a full range of needs so my choices are not limited to "hand to hand combat with swords" and "blow up the planet".
I will not set myself up as a god. That perilous position is reserved for my trusted lieutenant.
I will instruct my fashion designer that when it comes to accessorizing, second-chance body armor goes well with every outfit.
My Legions of Terror will be an equal-opportunity employer. Conversely, when it is prophesied that no man can defeat me, I will keep in mind the increasing number of non-traditional gender roles.
I will instruct my Legions of Terror in proper search techniques. In particular, if they are searching for escapees and someone shouts, "Quick! They went that way!", they must first ascertain the identity of this helpful informant before dashing off in hot pursuit.
If I know of any heroes in the land, I will not under any circumstance kill their mentors, teachers, and/or best friends.
If I have the hero and his party trapped, I will not wait until my Superweapon charges to finish them off if more conventional means are available.
Whenever plans are drawn up that include a time-table, I'll post-date the completion 3 days after it's actually scheduled to occur and not worry too much if they get stolen.
I will exchange the labels on my folder of top-secret plans and my folder of family recipes. Imagine the hero's surprise when he decodes the stolen plans and finds instructions for Grandma's Potato Salad.
If I burst into rebel headquarters and find it deserted except for an odd, blinking device, I will not walk up and investigate; I'll run like hell.
Before being accepted into my Legions of Terror, potential recruits will have to pass peripheral vision and hearing tests, and be able to recognize the sound of a pebble thrown to distract them.
I will occasionally vary my daily routine and not live my life in a rut. For example, I will not always take a swig of wine or ring a giant gong before finishing off my enemy.
If I steal something very important to the hero, I will not put it on public display.
When planning an expedition, I will choose a route for my forces that does not go through thick, leafy terrain conveniently located near the rebel camp.
I will hire one hopelessly stupid and incompetent lieutenant, but make sure that he is full of misinformation when I send him to capture the hero.
As an equal-opportunity employer, I will have several hearing-impaired body-guards. That way if I wish to speak confidentially with someone, I'll just turn my back so the guards can't read my lips instead of sending all of them out of the room.
If the rebels manage to trick me, I will make a note of what they did so that I do not keep falling for the same trick over and over again.
If I am recruiting to find someone to run my computer systems, and my choice is between the brilliant programmer who's head of the world's largest international technology conglomerate and an obnoxious 15-year-old dork who's trying to impress his dream girl, I'll take the brat and let the hero get stuck with the genius.
I will plan in advance what to do with each of my enemies if they are captured. That way, I will never have to order someone to be tied up while I decide his fate.
If I have massive computer systems, I will take at least as many precautions as a small business and include things such as virus-scans and firewalls.
I will be an equal-opportunity despot and make sure that terror and oppression is distributed fairly, not just against one particular group that will form the core of a rebellion.
I will not locate a base in a volcano, cave, or any other location where it would be ridiculously easy to bypass security by rapelling down from above.
I will allow guards to operate under a flexible work schedule. That way if one is feeling sleepy, he can call for a replacement, punch out, take a nap, and come back refreshed and alert to finish out his shift.
Although it would provide amusement, I will not confess to the hero's rival that I was the one who committed the heinous act for which he blames the hero.
If I am dangling over a precipice and the hero reaches his hand down to me, I will not attempt to pull him down with me. I will allow him to rescue me, thank him properly, then return to the safety of my fortress and order his execution.
I will have my fortress exorcized regularly. Although ghosts in the dungeon provide an appropriate atmosphere, they tend to provide valuable information once placated.
I will add indelible dye to the moat. It won't stop anyone from swimming across, but even dim-witted guards should be able to figure out when someone has entered in this fashion.
If a scientist with a beautiful and unmarried daughter refuses to work for me, I will not hold her hostage. Instead, I will offer to pay for her future wedding and her children's college tuition.
If I have the hero cornered and am about to finish him off and he says "Look out behind you!!" I will not laugh and say "You don't expect me to fall for that old trick, do you?" Instead I will take a step to the side and half turn. That way I can still keep my weapon trained on the hero, I can scan the area behind me, and if anything was heading for me it will now be heading for him.
I will not outsource core functions.
If I ever build a device to transfer the hero's energy into me, I will make sure it cannot operate in reverse.
I will decree that all hay be shipped in tightly-packed bales. Any wagonload of loose hay attempting to pass through a checkpoint will be set on fire.
I will not hold any sort of public celebration within my castle walls. Any event open to members of the public will be held down the road in the festival pavilion.
Before using any device which transfers energy directly into my body, I will install a surge suppressor.
I will hire a drama coach. The hero will think it must be a case of mistaken identity when confronted by my Minnesota accent (if everyone sounds American) or my Cornwall accent (if everyone sounds British).
If I capture an enemy known for escaping via ingenious and fantastic little gadgets, I will order a full cavity search and confiscate all personal items before throwing him in my dungeon.
I will not devise any scheme in which Part A consists of tricking the hero into unwittingly helping me and Part B consists of laughing at him then leaving him to his own devices.
I will not hold lavish banquets in the middle of a famine. The good PR among the guests doesn't make up for the bad PR among the masses.
I will funnel some of my ill-gotten gains into urban renewal projects. Although slums add a quaint and picturesque quality to any city, they too often contain unexpected allies for heroes.
I will never tell the hero "Yes I was the one who did it, but you'll never be able to prove it to that incompetent old fool." Chances are, that incompetant old fool is standing behind the curtain.
If my mad scientist/wizard tells me he has almost perfected my Superweapon but it still needs more testing, I will wait for him to complete the tests. No one ever conquered the world using a beta version.
I will not appoint a relative to my staff of advisors. Not only is nepotism the cause of most breakdowns in policy, but it also causes trouble with the EEOC.
If I appoint someone as my consort, I will not subsequently inform her that she is being replaced by a younger, more attractive woman.
If I am using the hero's girlfriend as a hostage and am holding her at the point of imminent death when confronting the hero, I will focus on her and not him. He won't try anything with his true love held hostage. On the other hand, the fact that she has been weak, slow-witted, naive and generally useless up to this point has no bearing on her actions at the moment of dramatic climax.
I will make several ludicrously erroneous maps to secret passages in my fortress and hire travellers to entrust them to aged hermits.
I will not use hostages as bait in a trap. Unless you're going to use them for negotiation or as human shields, there's no point in taking them.
I will hire an expert marksman to stand by the entrance to my fortress. His job will be to shoot anyone who rides up to challenge me.
I will explain to my Legions of Terror that guns are ranged weapons and swords are not. Anyone who attempts to throw a sword at the hero or club him with a gun will be summarily executed.
I will remember that any vulnerabilities I have are to be revealed strictly on a need-to-know basis. I will also remember that no one needs to know.
I will not make alliances with those more powerful than myself. Such a person would only double-cross me in my moment of glory. I will make alliances with those less powerful than myself. I will then double-cross them in their moment of glory.
During times of peace, my Legions of Terror will not be permitted to lie around drinking mead and eating roast boar. Instead they will be required to obey my dietician and my aerobics instructor.
All giant serpents acting as guardians in underground lakes will be fitted with sports goggles to prevent eye injuries.
All crones with the ability to prophesy will be given free facelifts, permanents, manicures, and Donna Karan wardrobes. That should pretty well destroy their credibility.
I will not employ an evil wizard if he has a sleazy mustache.
I will hire an entire squad of blind guards. Not only is this in keeping with my status as an equal opportunity employer, but it will come in handy when the hero becomes invisible or douses my only light source.
All repair work will be done by an in-house maintenance staff. Any alleged "repairmen" who show up at the fortress will be escorted to the dungeon.
When my Legions of Terror park their vehicle to do reconnaissance on foot, they will be instructed to employ The Club.
Employees will have conjugal visit trailers which they may use provided they call in a replacement and sign out on the timesheet. Given this, anyone caught making out in a closet while leaving their station unmonitored will be shot.
Members of my Legion of Terror will attend seminars on Sensitivity Training. It's good public relations for them to be kind and courteous to the general population when not actively engaged in sowing chaos and destruction.
I will not, under any circumstances, marry a woman I know to be a faithless, conniving, back-stabbing witch simply because I am absolutely desperate to perpetuate my family line. Of course, we can still date.
All guest-quarters will be bugged and monitored so that I can keep track of what the visitors I have for some reason allowed to roam about my fortress are actually plotting.
If my chief engineer displeases me, he will be shot, not imprisoned in the dungeon or beyond the traps he helped design.
I will not send out batalions composed wholly of robots or skeletons against heroes who have qualms about killing living beings.
I will not wear long, heavy cloaks. While they certainly make a bold fashion statement, they have an annoying tendency to get caught in doors or tripped over during an escape.
If a malignant being demands a sacrificial victim have a particular quality, I will check to make sure said victim has this quality immediately before the sacrifice and not rely on earlier results. (Especially if the quality is virginity and the victim is the hero's girlfriend.)
If I ever MUST put a digital timer on my doomsday device, I will buy one free from quantum mechanical anomalies. So many brands on the market keep perfectly good time while you're looking at them, but whenever you turn away for a couple minutes then turn back, you find that the countdown has progressed by only a few seconds.
If my Legions of Terror are defeated in a battle, I will quietly withdraw and regroup instead of launching a haphazard mission to assassinate the hero.
If I'm wearing the key to the hero's shackles around my neck and his former girlfriend now volunteers to become my mistress and we are all alone in my bedchamber on my bed and she offers me a goblet of wine, I will politely decline the offer.
I will not pick up a glowing ancient artifact and shout "It's power is now mine!!!" Instead I will grab some tongs, transfer it to a hazardous materials container, and transport it back to my lab for study.
I will be selective in the hiring of assassins. Anyone who attempt to strike down the hero the first instant his back is turned will not even be considered for the job.
Whatever my one vulnerability is, I will fake a different one. For example, ordering all mirrors removed from the palace, screaming and flinching whenever someone accidentally holds up a mirror, etc. In the climax when the hero whips out a mirror and thrusts it at my face, my reaction will be "Hmm...I think I need a shave."
My force-field generators will be located inside the shield they generate.
I reserve the right to execute any henchmen who appear to be a little too intelligent, powerful, or devious. However if I do so, I will not at some subsequent point shout "Why am I surrounded by these incompetent fools?!"
I will install a fire extinguisher in every room -- three, if the room contains vital equipment or volatile chemicals.
I will build machines which simply fail when overloaded, rather than wipe out all nearby henchmen in an explosion or worse yet set off a chain reaction. I will do this by using devices known as "surge protectors".
I will explain to my guards that most people have their eyes in the front of their heads and thus while searching for someone it makes little sense to draw a weapon and slowly back down the hallway.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Or also known as Shiwan.

So, we made it back from our trip out west. One of the neat things I found in Chinatown were some very cheap Bonsai Netsuke. I've been dabbling in Bonsai for several years now and even have Cole into it. So when I spotted these for like $1 each, how could I resist. Just the sort of unexpected treasure you like on a trip.

So I wasn't planning to post a blog version of a home slide show but Randy reminded me I hadn't posted anything at all so here's a few. I took something like 250 so this will take some time and a few seperate posts.
San Francisco is by far one of my favorite places to visit and very photographic. We stayed out by Fisherman's wharf and while it's a bit touristy, well we were tourists. I think we went back to the Wharf like 10 times it seemed. We took a bit more laid back approach in this visit and let where we did and what we saw unfold.
The first morning we were up bright and early (slept in by Michigan time) and went to North Beach for breakfast (thanks for the tip Cody).

Then a "simple walk up to Coit Tower. (Sorry, being new to Blogger, I thought i could rotate this after uploading but eh..)
We saw quite a few local chinese going through differing forms of Tai Chi at this very early time and I was quite impressed. They're on to something.....

I like to take more than just scenery shots and this grouping of succlents was gorgous. We were struck by the amount of gardening going on in any little spot people could find.

If you're familiar, in the background you'll see Lombard street, "The Cookedist Street in the World" and having driven down it at night, yes it is."

More to come.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Stick the fork in it's done

Yep, that's it. Summer's over.
How do I know? Because they came out to blow out the underground sprinkling lines today. I always held on to the feeling of summer as long as I thought stuff was still growing.
Those of you who can't imagine the long snows of winter because the one week a year it snows by you (you can't drive), just know that the spring days here are all the more glorious for it. I find that places that don't have winter never really get renewed in the way we're used to.