thar be pirates!

Hiroko and I did some shopping at National Azabu, then headed up to Jyuban and Roppongi Hills and got some French Dogs for lunch.

Missed my dentist appointment last week because of this damn cold. So I visited Dr. Suzuki this afternoon.
He has a comfy little pillow on the chair, and when I asked about it he told me his tales of woe as an inventor.
He needed a comfy little pillow, so he asked Tempur if they could make one, but they told him they couldn't make on that small. So he looked all around and ended up making his own little down pillow. And now, Tempur has a little pillow on the market, just like the one he asked them to make!
But wait there's more: Dr. Suzuki loves to eat stinky cheese. But the next day, he smells how bad his own breath is, and he realizes if he can smell his own bad breath, it must really be unpleasant for others. So after some research he discovered that parsley seeds work well to neutralize the stinkiness. He asked his friend who worked at a capsule making company to make a couple of samples, and he shopped them around to convenience stores and whatnot, only to be told he was daft if he thought anyone would buy such a product. Now, 20 years later, no young females would be caught dead without some Breathcare" capsules in her pocketbook.
And his latest sob-story: there's a certain rate at which administering novacaine from a syringe does not hurt; has to do with the pressure exerted on the plunger and therefore the rate and which the novacaine flows into the gums. However, it's very difficult for a dentist to work the plunger with his thumb to maintain just the right amount of pressure to keep the application of novacaine painless. So Dr. Suzuki figured that putting a simple gear/clutch on the syringe could regulate the speed at which the plunger depresses, maintaining a steady flow and therefore keeping the perfect, painless pressure constant. He told a couple of friends, made some mockups...and now the biggest medical supply maker has one on the market!
I told him next time he has a great idea, he should write it down and send it immediately to Hiroko, who will file for a patent and if necessary assemble the necessary funding to establish the business or at least license the patent.

On my way home I swung through Bic Camera in Shibuya and picked up a Linksys wireless DSL router. Marked 22,000 yen, but the guy rang it up as 15,980 yen! Score!

After the dentist we went to Roppongi Hills to see Pirates of The Caribbean. Now this movie was excellent. Everything that a movie should be: Depp was fantastic, the bad, cursed pirates were nasty, the 'good' Brits properly snotty, the sword fighting dynamic, the musical score engaging, the babe stunningly beautiful, the cleavage heaving, the blood minimal, the effects fantastic and seamless, and the plot engaging. Praise Disney for having the sense to make it PG-13, not R (too bloody/sexy/scary) or PG (too tame.)

the way things are

Had a meeting of instructors, went over plans for the upcoming national tournament and other administrative things. Then Niina-gosoke spoke a bit about The Way Things Are:

I am the 16th Soke of Mugairyu Iaihyodo. I AM Mugairyu Iaihyodo. Hougyoku-kai, the organization, exists because I choose to let you study Mugairyu. Without me, it is nothing. This is not a democracy. If I say crows are white, they are white. You don't like it, you're free to study some other style. This is koryu budo.
That being said, we are a group of friends, students and teachers, come together around our mutual love and respect for budo. You have something to say, say it! That's why we have these meetings, that's why the Board of Hougyoku-kai decides the rules and regulations. That's why we drink, and eat, and practice together. If you have an opinion, a positive contribution to make, say it proudly so that we can all hear you. Maybe we'll use it, maybe we won't. The final decision, as regards Mugairyu Iaihyodo, rests with me. But I am open to hear what you have to say. And maybe you'll learn something.
However, do not cower in the shadows, hide behind anonymity on the Internet, and make negative comments, criticize what I say, what we do. That is cowardly, and it is the lowest form of human behavior.
We all have opinions, we come together and drink and we say things; alcohol loosens the tongue, and what is said over drinks is understood as such. But those opinions don't leave that table. Don't repeat what others said, don't discuss it with those who weren't there, don't spread gossip and rumors, under the cover of shadow, in calculated whispers.
I have been doing Mugairyu Iaihyodo for over 30 years. You think you know something? You know nothing! You think it's a big deal because you teach once a week, because you have 4dan? You teach because I say you can, you get promoted because I promote you. The promotion committee, the shihan instructors, they are irrelevant. I give promotions, ranks, and certificates, and I take them away.
Is this harsh? Cruel? Shooting your mouth off in the shadows, that is cruel and demeaning. You got a problem with me, or the way I run things? We can settle this. Get your sword. All I need is a wakizashi, a tanto even. Then you'll understand why I'm Soke. Nobody forces you to study Mugairyu Iaihyodo. You're free to leave whenever you want. This is the way it is, and if it's not what you want, you need to go do something else, because I won't change things for you.
With any large group of people, groups form. Factions, even. Some people congregate around a certain sensei. Some folks stick together. Some people just don't like each other. That's just the way people are; the larger the group, the less likely it is that we all get along. But know this: you are all, every one of you, under ME. I am watching, and I know what's going on. I know what the shihan are doing, I see the cliques, factions, groups, and friends. I don't care one bit, but if it's an attempt to undermine me, to undermine my authority, to undermine Mugairyu, I won't stand for it. I have 300 years of Mugairyu Iaihyodo supporting me.
Most people don't mean badly, they just get mad, or frustrated, and say things that maybe the regret. But those words persist, snowball, a small comment sets of a thunder of screaming...All I ask is, watch your tongue. As a practitioner of koryu budo, the rules are strict, but even as a modern citizen, as a fellow human being, you should watch what you say. If you have time to comment or complain, shut up and spend that time practicing. Your actions will always speak louder than words. This is how it is. Less flapping tongue, more swinging swords.

He also held up Sekido-san's book of photography as an example of the great things that people can achieve when they just shut up and hunker down. Sekido-san spends months and years hanging out of chartered airplanes and driving around deserts taking amazing photographs of landscapes and horizons. Now he runs his own digital imaging licensing business.

After the meeting, Niina-gosoke, Sekido-san, Ohtsuka-san and I went to eat dinner. We decided to go to the 3000yen all-you-can-eat Korean BBC place, and spent the evening stuffing ourselves on BBC meat and talking about how great it will be when we get a honeybee dock; a place we can call 'home' and where we can practice 24-7. We're looking for a place, maybe an old factory or warehouse. The trick is getting a place with a high enough ceiling. Hope to find a place by the end of the year. Once we get a place, I'll be there every day!

puttin' the 'ki' in kissaki

Haven't been to practice in over a week. Didn't actually plan on going, but Tanaka-sensei called me and said that he had to work and asked if I could take over for him, so of course I said yes.
Ended up being pretty mellow; ran through the basics and took a couple of guys through the first six kata. Was feeling a bit tight and tired, but soon loosened up.
From 8:30 Niina-gosoke took us through the standing kata, and I was all sloppy. "Ren, you have no energy in your sword! As soon as you stop the cut, all the energy drains out, and there's nothing left! Your ki should flow all the way up through your arm, through the sword to the kissaki!"
After about 15 minutes he finally just said "You're still sick. Stop practicing. Go home and sleep. Summer colds are tough to beat if you're tired." So I packed up and went home.

i get what deserve

Too much fun this weekend, playing at the Azabu Jyuban Matsuri (Summer Festival) with little Kaeri and Amy, then shopping at Costo in Makuhari. By Monday I was feeling miserable and I slept for 2 days straight.
Not feeling 100% but at least I'm basically functional.

it's a girl

Jeff and Ericka's Lillian "Lilly" Sofia Calvert is born!