equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
13 Sep 10

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16 Feb 10

Broadsword and a Ukulele

Broadsword and ukulele

My Tai Chi teacher recently added the Yang style broadsword to the cur­ricu­lum. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ecsta­tic, as I’ve waited quite a while to learn a weapon form. There’s some­thing roman­tic and exotic about wield­ing one of the four great Chinese weapons. I find it delight­fully ironic that it’s a gweilo who’s cat­alyzed such an inter­est in my own cul­ture. Take THAT, my racist and sex­ist Chinese ancestors.

As for the ukulele, one day I found out how inex­pen­sive they can be and bought one right away. It’s a Mahalo Les Paul style ukulele (right down to the square tun­ing pegs) with an extended neck for higher reg­is­ter notes. In many ways, the ukulele is the per­fect instru­ment for me right now; cheap, easy enough that I can teach myself1, and not too hard on the fin­gers2.

It feels fuck­ing fan­tas­tic to be play­ing music in some form again. I did years of piano and flute lessons in ele­men­tary school to high school, and took a very long hia­tus from then till now. And that was mostly in band, when I couldn’t choose the music I wanted to play. Now I can play the songs I like, and the advan­tage is that I’ve prob­a­bly heard them a few hun­dred times so I already know them inside-out.

With my years of music lessons and per­for­mances from my youth, it’s not like I’m learn­ing music from scratch, I’m sim­ply fig­ur­ing out how to apply what I already know about tone, pos­ture, tun­ing, vol­ume, fin­ger­ing3, tim­ing, and into­na­tion, to another instru­ment. Admittedly, it’s been very slow going, and it’s like I’m learn­ing a new lan­guage as I train my fin­gers to achieve a dex­ter­ity that was never there before.

The inter­est­ing thing is that my last few years prac­tic­ing Tai Chi has helped me learn the ukulele. In my Tai Chi class, I’ve gained the patience and per­se­ver­ance required to prac­tice the same moves over and over again until they become a nat­ural part of my mus­cle mem­ory. In the begin­ning, it was a lot of con­cen­tra­tion spent just try­ing to remem­ber what to do next in the form, but now that I don’t need to think about them when I prac­tice, my con­cen­tra­tion goes into fine-tuning the lit­tle details. The same prin­ci­ples can be applied to the ukulele (or any instru­ment, for that mat­ter), and I’m try­ing to get to the point where I don’t need to think about what my fin­gers should be doing, and just con­cen­trate on play­ing with the right kind of expressiveness.

Which is why I have a broadsword and a ukulele rest­ing on the wall next to my desk. Any time I need a break, I pick up one of them and prac­tice for a few minutes.

  1. Because I really don’t have time for another time-consuming hobby []
  2. The strings are nylon, instead of the metal of gui­tars, so the cal­louses aren’t as bad. The health of my hands is also an impor­tant thing to me. []
  3. Though the fin­ger­ing for a stringed instru­ment is really dif­fer­ent from piano and flute. []
09 Jan 09

Tai Chi Deadline

I’ve started learn­ing large san shou in my Tai Chi class. While it’s fun to be prac­tic­ing another inter­ac­tive form of the Yang style, it’s also a lit­tle scary to be learn­ing some­thing new as my teacher nears retire­ment (when he reaches 60 in four years). I’m start­ing to worry that I won’t reach a level where I can prac­tice effec­tively on my own before his time is up.

At 2 classes a week, 52 weeks a year, and 4 years left to go, we can expect roughly 416 classes total; every class is worth 0.24% of a very lim­ited resource.

A class­mate once told me that his com­ing retire­ment is a good thing. We’ll be forced to go else­where to expand our knowl­edge of Tai Chi, because we reach cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions when prac­tic­ing with the same part­ners, skill lev­els, part­ners, styles, body types, and even teach­ers. While I under­stand his rea­son­ing, it doesn’t change the fact that I may not be able to con­tinue learn­ing what I know now, if another teacher doesn’t offer the same curriculum.

Added to this is the fact that mar­tial Tai Chi teach­ers are hard to find in a city as small as this. Good teach­ers, espe­cially ones suited to your learn­ing style, with the right bal­ance of patience and dis­ci­pline, are even less common.

It makes me won­der where I’ll be with my Tai Chi progress in four years.

03 Oct 08

Looking Forward to Tai Chi Classes

Knowing the con­sis­tency with which I go, she asked me if I ever felt like not going to my Tai Chi classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

I thought about it, and came to the real­iza­tion that I didn’t. There have been win­ter nights where the com­bi­na­tion of snow­storm and ail­ing tran­sit sys­tem have sud­denly left me with a wel­come free night, but other than that, I always enjoy going to class.

Before Tai Chi was table ten­nis1, and some days, I’d have to force myself to go. But when I was there, in the mid­dle of a good rally, then pant­ing, sweat­ing, exhausted after­ward, I’d always remind myself that I was glad I went.

Tai Chi offers me some­thing else though, a way for me to lose myself for an hour or two. Maybe because it takes so much focus, or so much focus to not focus on any­thing, that I’m able to for­get every­thing else. Even when I’m prac­tic­ing the form on my own it’s not the same. Being at the stu­dio with the other stu­dents — learn­ing from and teach­ing each other, apply­ing the prin­ci­ples we can’t prac­tice by our­selves — lets me get away. On top of that, I know that I’m improv­ing, even if I may not notice it in myself.

And that’s enough to make me look for­ward to my next class as soon as I step out of the stu­dio into the cool night air.

  1. Unfortunately, they’re both on the same nights dur­ing the week, which means I have to choose one over the other []
07 Sep 08

Tai Chi Classmates

There’s a good mix of body types and skill lev­els in my Tai Chi class. As the most junior per­son in the group, I have the ben­e­fit of always work­ing with peo­ple who are bet­ter than me (although being able to teach some­one myself would cer­tainly help solid­ify the con­cepts in my head).

Nothing beats work­ing with the teacher, who can pre­cisely vary his skill level so one can learn and absorb things in small incre­ments, a sys­tem­atic way of fine-tuning the details at a grad­ual pace. It’s some­thing that takes a great deal of time for bet­ter results in the long-run, and I’m sure that in this sense, he’s invest­ing in his stu­dents as much as one invests in the class.

Still, there are senior stu­dents who teach me sig­nif­i­cant things within a sin­gle minute of work­ing with them. They fill in the gaps in my knowl­edge that I’m not sure I’d be able to fig­ure out by myself, because they’ve been at my level before and under­stand what I’m doing wrong. Add to this a propen­sity to teach and help, and every class I walk away feel­ing like I’m improv­ing, if only by a small amount. Sometimes it’s to the point where I feel like my mind is going to explode, and the coor­di­na­tion of my body needs to catch up with the con­cepts in my brain.

But there are also senior stu­dents who seem stiff and unco­op­er­a­tive to the point where I feel I don’t learn any­thing from them. And even though I’m told they’re being nice and not over­bear­ing, I find prac­tic­ing with them to be very dif­fi­cult. It’s as if they’re work­ing too far beyond my level, where my struc­ture falls apart and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Maybe it just means I’m not skilled enough to adjust and do it right yet. I’m still thank­ful to be able to work with them though, because at the very least, they remind me that not every­one who’s going to attack you will be cooperative.

18 Jun 08

Tai Chi/Taoism Paradoxes

Another cor­re­la­tion between the phys­i­cal expres­sion of Tai Chi and philo­soph­i­cal ideas of Taoism is the ubiq­ui­tous exis­tence of para­doxes in both. There are con­tra­dic­tory answers to many ques­tions, and at the same time, the answers are very sim­ple (a para­dox in itself).

An exam­ple from Tai Chi is the pos­ture of the p’eng shape. If you’re too stiff, you can be pushed over eas­ily. If you’re too relaxed, you can be col­lapsed eas­ily. People make the mis­take of think­ing that you have to be one or the either — that you’re either resist­ing a force or let­ting it move you — with­out under­stand­ing that there exists a “some­where in between”. It’s dif­fi­cult to explain how some­thing can be struc­tured and relaxed at the same time.

A Taoist exam­ple is the idea of wu wei, or “action with­out action”. Practically speak­ing, it’s the con­cept that you don’t do any­thing that isn’t nec­es­sary, and by remain­ing reac­tionary you let nature (or the inter­ac­tion of Heaven and Earth, as Taoists roman­ti­cally say) run it’s course. In doing so, “noth­ing is done yet noth­ing is left undone”.

Last class, my teacher said “Tai Chi is easy, that’s why so few peo­ple do it well.” His words reminded me of verse 70 of the Tao Te Ching.

My teach­ings are very easy to under­stand
  and very easy to teach
yet so few in this world under­stand
  and so few are able to practice

The answers remain elu­sive and dif­fi­cult to explain because they must be felt, as in Tai Chi, or expe­ri­enced, as in Taoism, a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the para­dox­i­cal nature of both the ancient Chinese mar­tial art and philosophy.

06 May 08

Developments and Denouements

Lights down, sound up, for this one. Maybe some tea and a pas­try if it’s not too late.

I had Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs play­ing here.

Stripped down, the beat alter­nates between triplet–three–one–two-three–one–two and one-two-three–one–two-three–one–two, fool­ing the lis­tener into think­ing it’s in some sort of com­plex time-signature. It’s actu­ally based in com­mon time, but with the triplets in there and the down-beat (marked by the open snare) falling on four and then three of the next bar, the song takes on a syn­co­pated rhythm. This isn’t what makes the song good, though. It’s all Karen O and her voice.

I’ve been so moody lately. Up and down. Developments and denoue­ments. Most likely a result of my over­think­ing and over­plan­ning over every­thing. Still try­ing to take things one day at a time, with­out rush­ing head first, with­out falling head over heels.

It’s all a mix­ture of good and bad. Sometimes, I don’t even know how to feel.

I’ve begun see­ing my psy­chol­o­gist on a session-by-session basis (instead of on a sched­ule — an indi­ca­tion of progress). In between, my Tai Chi classes have become my ther­apy. There’s some­thing about class that cen­tres me; the cama­raderie, the move­ments, the breath­ing, the con­tact, the feel­ing that I’m improv­ing a part of myself, bit by bit, even if it’s sub­con­sciously. A time where I can totally focus, a place where I can for­get every­thing else.

Afterwards, it’s a drive home in the dark with the win­dows down, and the rustling of wind in my hair.

The seren­ity car­ries for­ward. I’m recharged again. Then I’m strong enough to be myself. I’m strong enough to accept these feelings.

They don’t love you like I love you.

03 Apr 08

Tai Chi Progress

My under­stand­ing of Tai Chi seems to come in the form of a sine wave: the more I learn, the more I real­ize I don’t know, and as I adjust for more and more details, other details get lost.

For the last few months, I felt like I was get­ting nowhere. The con­cepts made sense in my brain, but not in my body. My teacher has said that Tai Chi is already too intel­lec­tu­al­ized, and as a per­son who’s never been very phys­i­cally co-ordinated and tries to com­pen­sate in SHEER MENTAL POWA!, this holds true espe­cially for me. Until I’ve mas­tered telekine­sis, how­ever, I’ll be reliant on more tra­di­tional means of movement.

In the last cou­ple weeks I feel like I’ve reached another level of under­stand­ing, as rudi­men­tary as it may be.

One thing that helped a lot is when a senior stu­dent showed me what ward-off (peng) felt like. As he stood with struc­ture in his body, I tried to push him1, but ended up push­ing myself off him and falling over. In order to move him, I was forced to use the proper tech­nique (since he’s con­sid­er­ably big­ger than me), and expand with my entire body — legs, waist, arms, chest, lungs — instead of sim­ply try­ing to move through him.

Then we reversed roles and he pushed me until I could chan­nel his energy through my feet. It was the first time I ever felt grounded, instead of sim­ply under­stand­ing the idea. I still don’t really under­stand it, inso­faras I couldn’t explain it to some­one else.

Adapting this all to the form is some­thing else. I try to focus on one thing at time2 but it falls apart in other places. At this point, I’m just try­ing to get all the gross mechan­ics to be nat­ural with­out hav­ing to think about it, hop­ing that I’ll even­tu­ally be able to fine tune every­thing else.

  1. It reminded me of the feel­ing of squeez­ing a rub­ber stop­per, some­thing with give but not much, that becomes expo­nen­tially dif­fi­cult to com­press. []
  2. Such as stay­ing at one level with­out being rigid (con­sid­ered “breath­ing”), relax­ing my lower back, think­ing of my body being anchored through my legs, and keep­ing struc­ture and intent in my palms. []
25 Nov 07

Becoming Pat

At the core of our beings, Pat and I are the same person.

What sep­a­rates us is our emo­tion, or lack thereof. Pat’s the log­i­cal one, I’m the emo­tional one. I’ve always looked up to him — his strength, his morals, his per­son­al­ity — with­out really under­stand­ing why.

It’s only in the last year that I’ve come to real­ize Pat is a Taoist. This comes with the real­iza­tion that I’m a Taoist myself, and explains why I try to be more like him.

The inter­est­ing part is that he doesn’t even know that he’s a Taoist — sort of like Winnie the Pooh — which is exactly what makes him a true Taoist.

One of Chuang Tzŭ’s para­bles illus­trates this point. In an abbre­vi­ated ver­sion, Knowledge seeks a con­scious reflec­tion to know the Tao, and asked Silent Do Nothing and Reckless Blurter, before ask­ing The Yellow Emperor (ahhh, the Romantic per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Chinese fables):

Knowledge said to The Yellow Emperor, “I asked Silent Do Nothing and he kept quiet. Not only didn’t he answer me, but he didn’t even know how to answer. I asked Reckless Blurter, and though he wanted to tell me, he didn’t, and even for­got my ques­tions. Now I’ve asked you, and you know all about it. Why do you say that you’re far from it?”.

The Yellow Emperor said, “Silent Do Nothing was truly right, because he didn’t know any­thing. Reckless Blurter was nearly right, because he’d for­got­ten it. You and I are far from right, because we know far too much”.

The same is true for Tai Chi1, or any mar­tial art for that mat­ter. Dissect it too much, and you lose the mean­ing. Think about it too much, and you don’t react. As Michael Babin wrote in his arti­cle on self-defense train­ing:

It is sad but true that real skill comes from seem­ingly end­less drilling of the basics and then learn­ing how to transcend/forget most of what you have so patiently learned.

In other words, learn­ing struc­ture is essen­tial to learn­ing to react to a com­plete lack of struc­ture (i.e. a real fight); but if you focus on struc­ture for too long it becomes counter-productive to “being with­out struc­ture” in mar­tial terms. One of the many annoy­ing para­doxes in the inter­nal arts.

One of the many para­doxes in the Taoist phi­los­o­phy as well. As much as I try to study it, learn it, and apply it, I find myself think­ing about it too much. As a result, I occa­sion­ally stray from being cen­tered, and lose my balance.

It’s the con­scious reflec­tion which Knowledge is seek­ing that pre­emp­tively dooms his search. This is my prob­lem as well. I buy Taoist books with a thirst for knowl­edge, but they’re all telling me the same thing now. Not that the books haven’t helped at all, but I feel like I’ve reached a limit. Perhaps even the sim­ple act of writ­ing about this is counter-productive.

I have the under­stand­ing, but I can’t apply it with­out think­ing about it first, and it’s the attempt to apply it that ruins the point. I’ve yet to reach a stage of pure reac­tion and spon­tane­ity, like Pat.

But I’m get­ting there.

  1. Yet another exam­ple of how Tai Chi is the phys­i­cal expres­sion of the phi­los­o­phy. Or per­haps this could be reverse-generalized, and said that the Taoist phi­los­o­phy is reflected in every­thing, such as mar­tial arts. []
16 Oct 07

Hurts So Good

I’m exhausted. It’s late. I should be going to bed, but I want to write. Here I am.

Vanilla chai, this time. I never drink this tea, so it seemed some­what appropriate.

My limbs are sore. I’ve been prac­tic­ing my Tai Chi on a reg­u­lar basis, and my under­stand­ing has sur­passed my phys­i­cal abil­ity. I’m start­ing to over-exert myself. I’ve also been using my arms instead of my whole body when advanc­ing in sin­gle push hands, caus­ing my arms to work more than they should. Tonight, it got to the point where they were com­pletely weak. I sus­pect Elizabeth could feel this, and she switched arms before I had the good sense to do it myself.

It’s get­ting cold in the house1. The ther­mo­stat says 20, but it feels more like 18. I stood in the shower for a good 15 min­utes, let­ting my skin burn under the hot water, to the point where I stepped out of the shower into the cold air and started to sweat.

No edit­ing. No back­track­ing. Just type, and publish.

I hap­pened to come across a video today by the Grass Roots.

When I think of all the wor­ries peo­ple seem to find
And how they’re in a hurry to com­pli­cate their minds
By chas­ing after money and dreams that can’t come true
I’m glad that we are dif­fer­ent, we’ve bet­ter things to do
The oth­ers plan their future, I’m busy lov­ing you

One, two, three, four
Sha-la-la-la-la-la live for today.
Sha-la-la-la-la-la live for today.

And don’t worry ’bout tomor­row, hey hey hey hey.

Maybe I’m just read­ing into it, like a born-again, but the lyrics struck me as very Taoist, and the idea of detach­ment in par­tic­u­lar2. Darren jokes that I’ll start preach­ing to him the next time I visit him because our con­ver­sa­tions always stray to Taoism.

I’ve been feel­ing decid­edly dark, decid­edly yin, lately. Not sad or upset, but in an ener­getic way. I’m bouncy. Maybe this is the way my brain adjusts to my pre­vi­ously cheer­ful upswing. The funny thing is that I’m no less cheer­ful, just in a dif­fer­ent way. I feel more bal­anced. It’s as if the mind aches from some unknown force, expressed through an emo­tional state, yet rel­ishes and wal­lows in this.

And I’m lov­ing every minute of it.

  1. I’m try­ing to wait as long as pos­si­ble before turn­ing the heat on []
  2. Something I’ve only recently been able to achieve to any rel­a­tive degree of suc­cess. []
03 Oct 07

A Feint Within A Feint Within A Feint

Knowing where the trap is — that’s the first step in evad­ing it. This is like sin­gle com­bat, Son, only on a larger scale — a feint within a feint within a feint…seemingly with­out end. The task is to unravel it.

—Duke Leto Atreides, Dune

A feint can be used as a test, to gather infor­ma­tion, or a trap, to get some­one to do what you want them to do, or both.

The most impor­tant part to under­stand is that the oppo­nent is inher­ently involved in the sit­u­a­tion. You can only gain advan­tage from a feint depend­ing on the way he or she (re)acts.

A savvy per­son will react with exactly the right amount of effort, espe­cially impor­tant because a feint is only a mock attack. In Tai Chi terms, they bal­ance an opponent’s yin (expan­sion) with yang (com­pres­sion), and vice-versa1. In Taoist terms, they act like a mir­ror, reflect­ing only that which is in front of them, noth­ing more and noth­ing less. With a savvy per­son, the feint fails, and noth­ing is gained.

An igno­rant per­son will fall for the trick. They over­re­act and unbal­ance them­selves2, expos­ing their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. Without under­stand­ing true inten­tion, with­out see­ing the big pic­ture, they get played like a sucker.

And the more they react, the more ridicu­lous they look.

  1. Hence the empha­sis placed on stick­ing and yield­ing; a phys­i­cal con­nec­tion is needed to know where the cen­ter of an oppo­nent is at all times []
  2. In Tai Chi terms, this is con­sid­ered overex­tend­ing or col­laps­ing the struc­ture of the body or limbs []
19 Sep 07

Yo-Yo Tuesdays and Thursdays

It’s the same thing every Tuesday and Thursday.

I get home from work. I have some yogurt. I power nap. I wake up. I eat some fruit. I take the bus to my Tai Chi class.

I’m more pro­duc­tive on the bus than at home. It forces me to sit, and removes me of all distractions.

Some days I like to zone out. I lis­ten to music and let my mind wan­der. Lately though, I’ve been read­ing, to whit­tle down my list of purchased-but-not-finished books:

Note: Those marked with an aster­isk are ones I’ve begun reading.

The one I’m focus­ing on now is the Mao book (which is a tome that breaks my back when I carry it in a shoul­der bag) because I’m near the end of his life and it’s get­ting so good and so juicy. Nearly 10 months after Bronwen’s par­ents gave it to me last Christmas, I’m almost finished.

And I get so depressed when I read it because it’s filled with sto­ries of such tragedy, cru­elty, and mis­for­tune. Mao proves to be such a mon­ster, with over 70 mil­lion peo­ple dead from star­va­tion, sui­cide, or tor­ture, that it fills me with an almost infi­nite sadness.

Then I get to my Tai Chi class, and it’s so small and inti­mate, with such a great group of peo­ple, that I feel enlight­ened. It’s such a beau­ti­ful, tan­gi­ble expres­sion of my beliefs. My class­mates are all gen­er­ous, unpre­ten­tious peo­ple. The con­tact when I’m push­ing hands, uproot­ing, force-deflecting — the only phys­i­cal con­tact I have in the week now — charges me, and stave’s the lone­li­ness for another day.

When class is over, I get back on the bus and read more about Mao, and hurt again.

I come home around quar­ter to ten and cook din­ner and eat and write a bit and get to sleep way too late.

It’s an emo­tional roller coaster I go through twice a week.

06 Aug 07

A Note On Chinese Titles

Both my Tai Chi teach­ers eschew the title of “Master”, and pre­fer to be called by their first names. As I’ve had it explained to me, even the true mas­ters feel like they need a cou­ple extra life­times to com­pletely mas­ter Tai Chi. This is what my teach­ers com­pare them­selves to, so I sus­pect they feel it erro­neous to use the same title, even though they’ve been teach­ing for decades.

I find it very awk­ward. In Chinese, the word “Master” or “Sifu” implies a teacher, not nec­es­sar­ily a level of skill.

When I was young, I called my cousin by his Chinese name, because I thought it was insult­ing to address him by his rela­tional title of biu dai for “mater­nal younger male cousin” (or “mother’s sib­lings’ son who is younger than me”). I thought the “dai” part referred to some­one as “under”, the way “junior” could be used pejo­ra­tively in English. The thing I didn’t under­stand was that it was appro­pri­ate, per­haps even more appro­pri­ate than address­ing him by name. I’ve since become privy to the com­plex rules of Chinese names and titles, espe­cially rela­tional fam­ily ones.

As a kid, the first thing you’re sup­posed to do when enter­ing a house is greet every­one — adults most impor­tantly — by their title.

People con­tinue this tra­di­tion though, and even as par­ents, they’ll address their elders the same way. It’s a way of rec­og­niz­ing and respect­ing the roles in the fam­ily. Even though my Tai Chi teacher is Occidental, I feel com­pelled to address my teacher as “Master”, instead of “Mike”.

And it’s hard habit for me to break.

28 May 07

To Grow from Yielding

The most yield­ing thing in the world
  will over­come the most rigid
The most empty thing in the world
  will over­come the most full
From this comes a les­son —
  Stillness ben­e­fits more than action
  Silence ben­e­fits more than words

—Verse 43, Tao Te Ching

Sometimes, tem­per­ance is the great­est weapon.

When some­one attacks you with words or tries to make you feel any less than your­self, you merely need acquiesce.

In doing so, you dis­arm them. You rob them of their only weapon — anger — and their words lose all mean­ing and significance.

Tai Chi, as the phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of Taoist philoso­phies, fol­lows the same idea.

Then you will under­stand the flow of inter­nal power, and, hav­ing repeat­edly prac­ticed and refined your tech­nique and explored your own aware­ness, you can use and con­trol your inter­nal power at will.

The T’ai Chi prin­ci­ple is as sim­ple as this: yield your­self and fol­low the exter­nal forces.

—Waysun Liao, The Essence of T’ai Chi

When your oppo­nent expands, con­tract. Create a void in your stance, and let them fill that void. By absorb­ing your opponent’s energy, you reduce it to nothing.

No one proves them­selves more inane than one who matches energy with energy, force with force.

I’ve finally come to fully under­stand such an idea. The the­ory made sense, but I never put it in prac­tice, and prac­tice is what makes the under­stand­ing com­plete. It was only recently that I had the chance to apply it. The old me was hot-headed with too much to prove. When faced with insult­ing, patron­iz­ing words, I would have reacted, instead of fol­low­ing the prin­ci­ple of wu wei. The sit­u­a­tion was a test of myself, and I passed.

From this I’ve learned how much I’ve grown.

05 Feb 07

A Few Updates

Wide angle fun

Thumbnail: Wide angle me.
Thumbnail: Wide angle Bronwen.
Thumbnail: 15mm boots
Thumbnail: Wide angle computers.

The Canon 15mm proves to be a com­pli­cated addi­tion to the lens arse­nal. As a pho­tog­ra­pher, you really have to under­stand how to han­dle the dis­tor­tions, even when it’s on a 1.6 FOVCF body. It’s obvi­ously not meant for por­traits; faces end up being com­i­cally dis­pro­por­tion­ate. It’s great for con­text shots though, when the sur­round­ings say more than the subject.


I got a con­tract under my per­sonal busi­ness, my first. It’s made my sched­ule rather busy. There isn’t much time to just laze around on the week­ends any­more. I have to plan my fun.

Tai Chi break

Tai Chi classes have been sus­pended indef­i­nitely, as the teacher’s wife has just been diag­nosed with can­cer. While I miss the relax­ing two-hour ses­sions, I don’t miss wak­ing up at 5:30 in the morn­ing on Saturday to make class. With the extra time, I flirted with the idea of pick­ing up piano lessons again, but I’ve decided that it would too much of a com­mit­ment right now. I still need some form of phys­i­cal activ­ity, in addi­tion to the Tai Chi Yang form prac­tice on my own, so I’ll prob­a­bly be going to table ten­nis again.

Nail in the coffin

I’m off to New Hampshire for two weeks next month, for indus­try job train­ing. I had to find my pass­port, issued five years ago for my trip to Hong Kong/China/Macau, with my dorky glasses and hair parted down the mid­dle. In addi­tion to my old address, my mom was listed as con­tact in case of emer­gency, but I changed it to Pat. It would have been John if he wasn’t so far away. Pat’s also a good per­son to go to in a cri­sis; he’s the one who always keeps it together.

I miss my music source

Ever since Trolley moved out, I don’t get intro­duced to awe­some new music any­more. The lat­est find (on Jeff’s recommendation) is Wicked Wisdom, fea­tur­ing Jada Pinkett Smith as the front­woman. I never would have believed a band with Will Smith’s wife would be so good.