cold cuts

Supposed to snow today, so I bundled up warm and headed out to Akabane for cutting practice. There were only seven of us so we had way too many targets to cut and it was COLD, like hands-are-stiff, feet-are-numb cold. Needless to say I didn't cut too well, but I guess I did ok under the circumstances. At least the targets weren't frozen.
Came home and sat around with Hiroko translating Lucky's menu into English because last time we were there mama asked me if I could do it...gotta drop that off next week.

old school

Back to Niina-gosoke's practice for the first time in what felt like forever. The elementary school was having a student's calligraphy display, so we were surrounded by "Pure Heart", "New Year", and "Spring is Coming" in various qualities of penmanship. Practice was cold and I was slow, but managed to pummel myself through the evening.
After practice we got some dinner at the same grubby, smelly, cheap izakaya we always go to. Got a big boiling pot of kimche stew and dumped ramen noodles into it...SO good! America's a nice country, but you really can't beat Japanese food.

the ultimate environment

Nate tells it like it is for programmers slumming in the cold, hard world.


First Iidabashi class of the year, nice and small. Kiyokawa took Iwata-chan and schooled her draw-cut for two hours; she looked bummed and confused and not happy to be graduating and looking for a job in the Real World when she'd rather stay in the Fantasy Land of Dreams.
I took John and Tanaka-chan and we ripped through a bunch of kata. I felt all still and uncoordinated teaching, but getting slowly back into it.

starting from scratch

Still jet-lagged but I managed to go to practice in Akihabara. Otsuka-san took pity on my and took over the beginners so I could actually practice, for the first time in about a month. Needless to say I was terrible. Couldn't swing, couldn't cut, couldn't balance. Tanaka-sensei ran us through all twenty kata and every now and then he'd just smile at me and go "Too small. Too much tension. Too stiff."
I think this year I will start over from zero -- relearn everything from the basics up, in an attempt to break all my bad habits.
At least I finally paid for Niina-gosoke's sword, so now it's officially mine! Now I have to redo the handle; a bit longer as it's kind of short, and redo the wrap with silk instead of leather. Going to possibly get some custom fittings made as well, assuming I have any money left over from my bonus after I pay for three weeks in NY currently built up on my credit card.

chris gets a house!

Miracle of miracles. America IS a great country. If my brother can buy a house, anyone can. Here's what he has to say about it:
We are homeowners! It’s the American dream. I now have a quiet place to smoke my Meerchaum while I work on carving and painting my duck decoys.
So, I’ve learned a lot during the process…If your credit isn’t perfect and you don’t put 15% down then going through the process of getting approved is much like what having your testes hooked up to a car battery is like. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, it’s similar, but different.
I’ll take some snapshots, everyone’s invited.
Most importantly we are paying less than the 1.5 million dollars a month on rent at the other house. So maybe we can actually start saving for some trips…of course Keiran is going to want his own car soon, and nice clothes to impress the ladies…