Molar Equations And The Plastic Brain

I wanted to be a science nerd really bad in high school. There was a problem with that for me. With my family’s frequent moves and the differing school systems I’d been exposed to, as well as some issues with no one noticing I needed glasses for many years, my math skills sucked. And math is really important in physics and chemistry. So chemistry in particular was a massive drag for me. Physics I could get by in because the teacher was sort of taking it easy on everyone, but the chem teacher was a martinet. Probably because the students were damn close to immolating themselves a few times. So my scores were abysmal. Until we got to molar equations. The rest of the class fell apart for this subject and couldn’t keep up, but to me it was childishly simple. Same when we covered ion rings and energy state…

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Devil On Your Back

I read an article about a week or so ago that really bugged me.  It was one of those feel good, overcome your failures sort of articles. It talked about how defining a failure can be, and in this case how it pushed this one person on to succeed better than they ever have before. And that really pissed me off. I read these sort of articles often…it’s a common inspiration tactic. What really set me off on this one was that the flaw that is common in all these articles. It was really clear in this one. The failure that defined this person was singular. He recounted how he’d been successful at everything else in his life, but this one thing. He credited his one failure with teaching him to overcome difficulties, to be a better person, etc. Most importantly he credits the failure with him continuing to succeed…

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Moving Past Quit

She’s supposed to be searching me, but I’m just tired of it. So I turn, with everything I’ve got, and smash my elbow into her face. I try to drive her neck into the wall with my forearm so I can hit her more, but she’s already out and down. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I step forward to do something to her again. I’m grabbed from behind, violently. There might be yelling or commands, but I don’t hear them. It’s the other guard. She spins me around, maybe hits me, I don’t know. I duck under her arm, grab her around the waist. I’m told later that she, being a trained judoka, tried a leg sweep/trip throw on me, but I was having none of it. From my waist grab, I drive my right shoulder into her solar plexus, and slam her into the wall.…

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Heaven and Hell on the Night Train

Good dramatic title, isn’t it? One of my favourite zen tales is the story of the badass samurai looking for a little wisdom. He came across a priest, and asked this priest about heaven and hell. The priest started to swear at the warrior, belittling him. The warrior grew angry, and reached for his sword. The priest looked that the warrior as the sword started to come out of the scabbard, and said “Now you enter the gates of hell.” The warrior froze up, realization dawning. He slid the sword back into the scabbard. “And now you enter the gates of heaven.” Good wisdom there, and a deeper lesson than you think for martial artists. Class last night was one of those rare and special moments. We’ve wrapped up two lengthy training phases, and as such the week had been designated for rest. No formal class plans, no workout. The…

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Power and Evil

There will always be people who only see a sword as a means of ruling over others. They think less of the art of swordplay, and more of the visceral pleasure of watching someone cower before them. Tyranny is a brutal human disease that we seem to continue to let fester. Martial arts can be a home to the worst of us. Swordplay is no different, but you would think that maybe…perhaps…the slight more implied interest in things historical would give us an eye towards seeing the mistakes of the past and trying to not repeat them. I grew up in a generation that had a healthy disbelief that any rational, good people could have allowed nazism the power that it had. How could they not see the evil that was brewing, that was so obvious to us now? Couldn’t they feel the hate, the evil? As I got older…

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Painting Death

Ditch all the drama of martial arts, and you are left with a reality that doesn’t jive with our spoken or even understood reasons for training. Mostly we spend time justifying our interest. A lot of the justifications I hear don’t stand up under some scrutiny, but we still use those justifications amongst ourselves to try and make ourselves more right than other practitioners. I train for reality, therefor your sport approach sucks. I train for historical accuracy, so your reality approach sucks. You train just for fun? Poser. Loser. Your art is empty. Long term goals are always a bit of a fantasy. As the old saying goes, you can tell what you will be doing two years from now about as well as you predicted today two years ago. Nothing wrong with putting a little aside for a rainy day, but don’t waste today’s opportunities. For us martial…

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