Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bad Santa!

There will never be a simple formula to give clear answers to know how much force is enough. Force incidents are chaos and we can’t write a cookie-cutter answer to chaos.  –Rory Miller

Carlos: Are you coming to class on Saturday?
Me: No, I have to work.
Carlos (nodding thoughtfully) I need to talk to your boss.
Me: You could take him.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

"Brazilian Buffet" (ie, all spars). I went with Nelson first, who is injured, as usual. Ribs. (or as the Brazilians would say, "Reebs.")   One of the reasons I love rolling with Nelson is that it's all technical. Although gripfighting with the judo guy is a foregone conclusion. I shook my finger in his face when we were done and said, "No white belts." There were plenty of colored belts in the room who would know enough to stay off his reebs if asked.

Garrick was setting me up for a sub when he realized that I was setting him up for a keylock from a very strange position.  I hadn't really expected it to work, but it distracted him enough that I was able to escape his sub attempt.

Went with one of the white belt guys that I've been giving tips to, and was pleased to see that he is responding correctly to a number of situations. "I see you have been learning a thing or two in here."  "I'm trying!" He said (again) that he always learns a lot rolling with me. (Okay, so I never really get tired of hearing that....)

I got a roll with Cindy, too. It's been a while. She told me that she had made a very large black belt retire to the bathroom after being crossfaced. I was not surprised. Cindy's crossfaces are evil!

Me (trying to escape back mount):  No! I don't *want* to sit in your lap!
Doug: Come tell me what you want for Christmas!
Me: No! Bad Santa! Bad Santa!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Thursday and Friday

If anyone strikes my heart, it does not break, but it bursts, and the flame coming out of it becomes a torch on my path.   Hazrat Inayat Khan

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Lots of drills. Double and single leg setups. Pulling guard. Cross collar chokes from closed guard.

We worked a lot on the cross collar choke from guard, including the variation that I really like where you grab a handful of gi at the back of the opponent's shoulder (that's one of my highest-percentage subs, although my percentage goes down with people who know my game enough to be aware that I'm always looking for that one).

King of the hill. Back mount- keep back mount vs escape. Carlos reminded me (painfully) that even if I am good about not crossing my ankles, my feet are still not safe if they are side by side. They need to be lopsided.

Some fun rolling with Christy, starting from standup.
Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Just tried to transcribe the takedown we did tonight, and failed... it was a new one with a lot of steps in it. I know I could do it if I had someone standing in front of me, but my swiss-cheese memory is confusing some of the lefts and rights, and I don't want to transcribe it wrongly.

Armbars from guard, using the gi tails to wrap the bicep and prevent the opponent from lawn-mowering out. I had to work very hard, and be very careful, to keep Chrisanne's short little hobbit-arm from popping that elbow out. I had to make sure to brace the elbow against my chest or belly until I had that go tail wrapped really tight. The tail cannot be too high or too low. Tricky.

Always good to partner with Chrisanne, as we can challenge each other with just enough resistance to make the other person see and correct her sloppy bits.

Some fun rolling with Chrisanne, starting from standup.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Almost broke my arm tonight.

One we learn how to use adversity to our advantage, we can manufacture the helpful growth opportunity without actual danger or injury.  -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

Today I turned my ankle on some rocks and fell flat on my back on the hiking trail- but it was a fabulous breakfall, and didn't hurt a bit. I bounced right back up. Then I had to chase down my dog..... who, completely unperturbed, just kept going and left me lying there.   :(

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

You are lying under side control. Use left arm to hug around opponent's shoulders and hook your fingers in hir armpit. Scootch your legs to your right, scootching opponent's legs along with them, until you can thread your right arm over hir near leg and under the far one. Plant your left sole on the mat and sweep. Keep all your grips, and your own body will loft over the opponent's and settle into a much better side control- one with YOU on top. Don't let go of that leg.

Same thing, only when you go to do the sweep, opponent moves hir arms to get away from your hug, and is now sort of Supermanning on top of you. Thread that arm OVER hir arms and under hir chin, and roll hir over your face. Likewise, your body will naturally follow. Note that this time, you roll overtop the foe in the OPPOSITE direction that you did previously (ie, toward hir head).

Both of these techniques were fun, but very abs-intensive! I was feeling the burn right above my belly button after just a few reps.

My first several reps of this second technique went fine, aside from the fact that I was rolling Christy right over my face, which was mildly annoying. I almost let it go, but then Doug walked by- so I decided to go ahead and ask him what simple adjustment would prevent this issue, because I knew there would be one. He had me pause and tip my head closer to Christy's just before I rolled her, like I was telling her a secret. Unfortunately, I was focusing so hard on that detail that I went the wrong direction when it came time to flip my body over her, and *****OF COURSE******* that would be the moment Carlos walks by.  (Why does that always happen????!????? Does that happen to everybody or just me?????!!!!! ARGH!)

Then he made me do it on the Stupid Side, and I looked like even more of a moron because I blanked and couldn't remember the steps on that side.  I said, "I have to stop and think about it." and he said that he wanted me to think, because I still had to be here for an hour.

Then we did King Of the Hill from side control, and Carlos yelled at me and Sean because we kept going when I got half guard, and we weren't supposed to.

Next- just for a trifecta of looking like a wingnut in front of the prof tonight- I got in side control on top of him, and he reversed me in about .0000000002 of a millisecond. I knew it would be quick, but not THAT quick. I was so surprised that I exclaimed, "SHIT!!!" quite loudly. Carlos does not like cussing on his mat. I slapped both hands over my mouth, but it was too late!

I was KOTH'ing with another guy when he executed a *very* nice technique that I was not familiar with. It was one of those ones where you have to sweep your own self in order to avoid getting your arm broken. One of the ones where they are already in the middle of an unstoppable motion, so you can't just yell TAP and freeze the action. Unfortunately, I didn't parse what was happening until *almost* too late, and then it was like


....and I had to really utilize all my experience with analyzing and executing just how to change the angle, and exactly when to relax the arm and shift my weight. In a flash. Ironically- even though I was tapping a moment later- it made me feel masterful. I figured it out and I handled it, instinctively and instantaneously. If he would have done that to a white belt- or maybe even a blue- it would have broken the arm.

"No matter how fast you do eet, you still have to stay here for an hour."

Peyton Quinn’s rules of conflict:
Don’t ignore him.
Don’t insult him.
Don’t challenge him or accept his challenge.
Leave him a face-saving exit.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Being the last kid picked for the kickball team today landed me a black belt drilling partner (Sean). I managed to fall/roll over his hand and also clock him in the forehead within the first five minutes. Sometimes I think I should be wearing a clown suit on the mat.

Carlos had the heat cranked up to "Brazilian Beach In July" again today. We did a long sequence, adding a new piece every 10 min or so, but always starting with the double-leg from standing.

Double leg from standing. I continue to suck at wrestling takedowns. I know I'm not getting close enough to the opponent during the setup- and also, going down (and- especially-getting up again) is difficult on my bad knees. Sean wants me to change levels as a distinct step BEFORE sticking my lead foot between his feet. As I am doing the double-leg, I can't help thinking, "Good lord, his thighs are like cement pillars." I hope I have cement pillars someday.

Failed double-leg to circling to the back and bear hugging. You lift opponent's feet off the mat, s/he wraps one shin around your shin to prevent being picked all the way up and dumped sideways.

You have no choice but to put opponent down. S/he reaches between hir own feet and grabs your ankle, pull to take down. (Note- when you are being taken down in this fashion, do not attempt to keep the bear hug. All that will get you is the opponent thudding down on your ribs like a cement mixer.)

Opponent steps out and pivots (with bent knee, not a big straight-leg spin that will expose the leg to grabbing) and goes to KOB, then front mount. After waiting 3 secons in each position to get points, s/he sinks one cross collar grip.

I had learned long since that one does not want to push the choking hand across one's own throat- thus telling your opponent, "No, buddy, don't bother to choke me- let me choke myself! No problem!" So when Carlos told us to put one hand on the wrist and one on the elbow, I thought I knew what I was doing. But he wanted us to do something that felt counter-intuitive.... PULL the wrist cuff away from the choke. This necessitated switching hands for me. I still have enough Tiger mentality that the world is all about PUSH to me... it rarely occurs to me to pull. I had to pause at this step the first few times and think it over.

Upa. After that bobble, I was so eager to move on that I explosively upa'ed the crap out of Sean, and the next thing I saw was Carlos' face.

"Why you breedge that way?"

"Uh, that would be stupid because he can post with that hand."

"Then why you breedge that way?"

"Because I was in too much of a hurry and didn't think."

"No matter how fast you do eet, you still have to stay here for an hour."   Which actually was kind a revelation, which I will try to keep in the forefront of my mind.

After upa, guard pass. A few different variations of leg spaghetti, involving trapping the opponent's arm across hir own body and keeping both  hir legs stretched out. I felt really off balance during the pass- like it would be easy to tip me onto my back- but Sean explained (and I saw for myself when he took his turn) that the opponent had no leverage for even the tiny push it would have taken to tip me over.

A little King Of the Hill, starting from side control. Top person try to sub, bottom person escape, catch guard or half guard. Camille got a legit sub on me. Awesome. She did a couple of abrupt switches on me- when we were straining in one direction, she suddenly switched to something else in the opposite direction and caused me to use my own force against myself. I love that, and still struggle to work it into my own game. Both white belt girls are giving great Shoulder Of Justice. They will need that, as tiny as they are.

A roll with a white belt who was delighted for me to school him in a Bunch Of Things That I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was a White Belt.  I told him that the best way to thank me would be for him to do these things to me next time we rolled. I love it when somebody kicks my ass with something I taught them.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Is my B.O. that bad?

Most of the time, the person who “wins” at violence is the one who crossed the line. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Open mat at Seattle.

I got there kind of late because I slept in a bit..... I never get to sleep in, and it was just so nice.... but I got to Seattle and as I walked in, everbody was clearing out.

Me: "Is my B.O. *that* bad??"
Peter: "It's pretty bad."

He stayed to roll with me for about 10 min, then he had to leave and the only person left was a young-20's blue belt that I'd never met before. He was fun. We rolled for an hour.

Now that it's getting cold, it is tempting to wuss out on hiking.... but the dogs are still eager to go, and one of my nearby walking buddies is being really helpful about getting us out there.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Look, spaghetti arms!


There are times when the body needs to heal, but those are ripe opportunities to deepen the mental, technical, internal side of my game.  You should always come off an injury better than when you went down.   -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.  All spars. Justin, Nelson, John, Justin again. All good, competitive spars. Was noticing where my acrobalance/dance/contact improv experience crosses over. In those arts, you often work with a partner(s) to achieve a certain movement- but just as Johnny taught Baby, you have to lock your frame. Otherwise, your partner's movement does not move YOU where you are supposed to go. I was noticing my opponents today trying to move me in ways that required some degree of cooperation from me- mostly being tense enough (frame locked) to be levered this way or that. When I made myself limp and heavy at the moment that they tried to lever, the movement did not work (and I stayed on top).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The ego- a challenge that is constantly revisited.

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique,
they are great because of their passion.”
- Martha Graham

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

I need to quit being so lazy about blogging my classes the same day- if I wait, I really have problems transcribing the techniques, and I can only assume that's going to translate to further problems retaining them.

I remember that I warmed up rolling with Peter. He is getting quite technical, but still using a lot of muscle. I guess I have not worked with anyone in a good while who muscles that much. I had thought I had grown out of the whole dick-waving thing where I try (vainly, of course) to muscularly match muscley men who are much more massive than me.  Found out that I am not. I kind of hurt myself straining against him, and I also hurt myself by being too stubborn to tap. I certainly EXHAUSTED myself. Time to revisit that important lesson.

We did some guard pulling from standing, and a sweep, and some triangle stuff, and Carlos pointed out that we do not need to have our bodies torqued way over to the side to do the triangle. We can just alter the angle of  the leg. And of course, it is critical to remember that pushing your leg down/forward is a lot more effective than trying to basically squeeze your thighs together in a nutcracker motion.

Teepee. Chrisanne was delighted with this, as it seemed to solve some of her short-leg issues in finishing the triangle. While I was happy for her, three reps of this gave me an immediate splitting headache.

I was taking my headache toward the locker room when Cindy walked in. For once in my life, my reaction to seeing Cindy walk in was "shit!"...... because I knew that she was competing the next day, and I had also mentioned the Friday evening Bellevue classes to her the day before- so I couldn't just  flee without letting her beat on me some. She wanted to drill a horrible takedown- a twisty arm drag that wrenches the elbow, shoulder, *and* back; and while you are writhing in pain, you get your foot hooked and hoisted above your head to get dumped hard. The first eight or ten weren't too bad, but after that, I wanted to cry. It would have hurt any time, but after my lengthy muscle-roll with Peter and my pounding headache, it was agony. Had to really grit my teeth to stop myself from saying, "I'm sorry, I just can't do any more of this tonight" (probably with a sob on the final syllable). After drilling, I was able to roll a bit with her, then begged off and gave her Ron instead. I always feel bad/ashamed that I just don't have what it takes to be a good uke for Cindy, especially when she is in comp mode..... I always try, but end up feeling really inadequate.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I've got all the answers. Well, THIS one, anyway.

”We either make ourselves miserable,
or we make ourselves strong.
The amount of work is the same.”
- Carlos Castaneda

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Man, I wish I could get to class more often. I was so happy to be in class. Carlos even remarked on the fact that I was laughing a lot today.

We did a bunch of spider guard sweeps that had about 862 steps with 5 critical little details in each step, and I have just tried and failed to transcribe any of them... although with Camille's help, I did okay performing them. She is better than I am at regurgitating long sequences of choreography, which is a persistent struggle for me.

I had one delicious moment of triumph today. Carlos demo'ed to the middle of one of these sequences, and said, "Now what if your opponent does THEES right now?" The front half of the line shouted several suggestions, all of which Carlos tried and demonstrated the wrongness of.  Then he told us to experiment with our partners and see if we could figure out something that would work. I immediately hipped out and transitioned to an armbar- AND I WAS RIGHT(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I was the only one who figured it out!!!!!!!!! To be fair, this was partly because we had been doing sweeps all day and everyone else was searching for a way to salvage the failed sweep. Whereas I- either because I still retain a ridiculous amount of always-attacking Tiger attitude, or just because my sweeps suck- went for a sub instead.

Related and funny: at one point, the prof noted that during the sequence of one of these sweeps, we must pause and remove our opponent's arm from the place where it naturally ends up, because if we fail to do so, it turns into a bicep slicer and we will get DQ'ed. He demo'ed the bicep slicer, and obviously noted my eyes lighting up (as they do whenever a choice bit of "bonus violence" presents itself).  He looked at me sternly and said, "Keetsune. You do thees in competition?" "No sir."

One spar with Camille, one with the tattooed purple belt whose name I can never remember, one with Jason. All fun rolls. Tattoed purple belt keeps pulling guard on me, and I tried to tell him that I'd like to work standup and that it's okay for him to take me down, as long as he doesn't slam me. He's one of those people who insists on being a little *too* careful with me.

Had to skip the structured dog walk tonight.... even January would have been disenchanted with the freezing rain. We have been hearing all week about this monster storm that's supposed to be coming in, and apparently the world is supposed to end and everything, but it has yet to materialize (except for some freezing rain). Rilla and I took dogs out in the rain yesterday (on her urging... we decided even 20 min was better than nothing.... if it had just been me I would have bailed, which is why I want walking partners to push me... I thanked her), and the sun ended up coming out and we walked for 2 hours. Particularly glad to get that in, in case we are stuck inside for the next week.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

This commute is killing my training.....

You may think you have an ace up your sleeve. Hell, you might even have one. But recognize that the other guy has three or four. If he didn’t think he had something that would let him win, he wouldn’t play. –Campfire Tales From Hell

I have done four classes since my last blog post. Still struggling a lot with insomnia and the resultant generalized "feeling like crap" as well as the issue of not feeling safe- or just plain not feeling like- driving to the school and back. Also feeling lazy about blogging.  :P  All I want to do is sleep, and since I can't sleep, all I feel like doing is nesting with a pile of books. I really want to go to jiu jitsu- I miss it, I crave it- but I'm struggling.

Anyway, I remember working on clock chokes; I remember working with three white belt guys over two days who were all respectful enough that I felt comfortable giving pointers. One of them in particular thanked me several times. It always feels so good. I really enjoy helping newbies, when I feel like they are actually listening to me- and I think I'm good at it.

I remember rolling with the visiting prof, whom I am pretty sure had me pegged as the village idiot because I kept asking him to show each technique One More Time. He started looking me right in the eye while he taught the class, and helped me more than anyone else in the room. That's great, although it did make me want to show him- when we finally rolled- that I actually do know a thing or two. I think I surprised him a bit.   :)

Worked with Chrisanne last night, which was wonderful. Hip throws, hip throw to armbar, armbars from mount. I am getting better at remembering to pinch my knees together, which has ever been the detail I tend to neglect.  Chrisanne and I did two spars (from standing) at the end... they were great spars. We are so evenly matched.

It's been raining for a week and a half, so walks with the dogs have also been curtailed- surely a
contributor to my general laziness. Finally got a 3 hour hike on Weds and an hour each Thurs and Fri. Was a bit sore after the 3 hour, but felt much better overall. Dogs get woefully stiff- and January gets very restless- when they are not getting hikes, so it's great incentive... although I can't do anything about the weather.

The Halloween candy situation at work was reather devastating. And now we are swinging into The Holidays. It would be good to try to keep my eating under some semblance of control.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thursday: break-in, Friday: pit bull attack. How was your week?

Many people receive the answer to their prayers, but ignore them- or deny them, because the answers didn’t come in the expected form.  –Sophy Burnham

Thursday lunchtime gi in Bellevue. We got Rodrigo today! Carlos and Doug both had surgery at the beginning of the week, so they will be on the bench a while.

Opponent in turtle, you sprawled on hir left hip. Grab hir left sleeve cuff and right lapel. Move to the side and pull hir onto her side, switching to a "sash" grip. Stay heavy and keep public bone to the mat. As s/he places hir top foot on the mat to try to recover turtle, you stick your bottom leg into the space that s/he has just made between the mat and hir hip, and wrap hir bottom leg. Pull hir back into you, and place the second hook. Do not forget to trap the arm. (Note: do not- as I wanted to do- try to jump/climb on top of hir to get the back mount. PULL hir into you.)

Same entry, only now as you pull the foe onto hir side, you use your lapel grip to open the lapel and slide your other hand in. I always want to snug everything REALLY REALLY TIGHT, and Rodrigo instructed me to loosen up and slide down a bit on this lapel grip- because you want the person to try to recover turtle instead of realizing that they're about to get choked. As they go into turtle, you clock choke. Do not straighten your arm and pull at this. Keep the elbow bent and lean your chest over the opponent's head. Rodrigo puts his forehead on the mat.

My stupid side, which I only tried a few times at the very end and only because we had done about a bajillion reps, was much tighter because that side had me doing the clock choke with my dominant arm.

A little positional training from the point where you pull the opponent onto hir side and try to keep hir down, while opponent gives some (but not crazy) resistance.
So some crazy and/or drugged homeless guy broke into my garage this morning. It scared the poop out of me, but I was very happy that I had a gun, so that I knew I could defend myself if he tried to get into the house. I was even happier to see the sheriff pull in. I could have set off the audible alarm and probably scared him off, but I wanted the cops to get him, so that I wouldn't have to worry about him coming back (for a little while, at least). He broke a window in my rear garage door, but luckily did not damage my car. The nice deputies caught him red-handed in there, carted him off in cuffs, and booked him for Burglary in the second degree.

I think the only thing I could have done better was to be more proactive about checking out odd noises. I heard some thumping, but assumed it was the cat messing around upstairs. It was only when the thumping continued that I went up to check, and found her asleep. I figured then that I had a bear in my garbage can. But when I looked out the window, I saw an unfamilar dude lurching up my driveway while holding an animated conversation with himself. Next time I will check out weird noises more promptly. If he had gone to the front door instead of the garage after rifling the garbage, things could have turned out much worse than they did.
So, the day after some crazy homeless guy broke into my garage, my dogs and I got attacked by a loose pit bull. It tore up Teal pretty badly. I was well weaponed up, yet could not adequately defend.

Because I am so paranoid, my head is always on a swivel and thus I glanced behind me and saw the pit come out of the driveway. As soon as I laid eyes on that dog, I knew we were going to get attacked. I yelled "NO!" powerfully, as that has been recommended by some dog-savvy friends. I was then able to get off a couple yells for help and get my pepper spray out of my pocket before it was on us.

The dog attacked Teal, and I emptied half the can of pepper spray right into its eyes to no effect at all. I could not shoot it because we were in the middle of a populated subdivision. My knives would have been a poor weapon- this dog was not responding to pain compliance techniques, and I would have had to get under its throat and get a few really good deep slashes to put it out of commission. At that point, my bag of tricks was empty.

All I could do was yell for help. I tried to pull the pit off my dog, but it just kept hold and I was dragging both dogs. I really needed a second person- one to grab each dog and pull them apart. But although ten or twelve people came out to see what all the screaming was about, no one helped.   :(    Now I know what Kitty Genovese felt like.

Eventually the dog owner's dad came out, and stood there to stare for a moment before wading in. He grabbed the pit's harness and gave it a couple of ineffectual tugs, then he started whipping the dog over the back with a little nylon strap. Of course that didn't do jack. Finally I gathered my wits enough to yell at him, "grab the harness and pull him off! Grab the harness and pull him off!" Which he finally did.  As I fled for our lives, the guy was lying in the middle of the street bear-hugging the dog.

So, several lessons learned.

1)Don't expect help. Even if there are lot of people around. They will just stare, or maybe take out their iphones to video your attack. You are on your own.

2)Please don't be that person. If someone is yelling for help, fucking HELP.

3)I thought I was well weaponed-up, but two of my weapons were inappropriate for the situation and the third one failed me. I have thought a lot about what would have helped in that situation, and I decided that a hammer would have gotten the job done. I went to Lowe's and bought a really nice heavy mallet with a comfy grip and good balance. I am now carrying that whenever I walk the dogs. The next loose dog that puts its teeth in my dog is going to get its fucking skull bashed in.

4)It was astonishing to what extent my brain switched off in the presence of that much adrenaline. I had to leave the scene, because Teal needed to go to the ER, and that guy still did not have his dog under control, so we fled. Later I had a hard time finding the attack site, I wouldn't have been able to pick that guy out of a lineup, and I was even unsure what color the dog was- which is funny seeing as how I was wrestling with it for three minutes. Your brain really shuts down all the extraneous details. Next time, remind self to stop and take note of details, especially if you have to flee the scene.

5)Even if you have decided that your pepper spray is useless, don't put the can back into your pocket. Just the small amount of dried liquid left on the outside of the can ate right through my pants and gave me a miserable chemical burn. My entire thigh looks like it's been roasted over a slow fire. (Again- how did that monster dog just ignore this? I knew it wasn't going to respond to pain compliance techniques, but I was hoping that the pepper spray directly into the eyes would blind it and make it difficult to breathe. Nope.)

6)January is tactically useless. All he did was run circles around us in scared confusion. I always hoped my dog(s) would try to do something if I was screaming for help, but it did not trigger him. Note: do not expect his help in the instance of a break-in.

I went to BJJ class on Friday night, but I had too much going on to blog it, and now I can't remember what we did. I also missed ALL classes the following week.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.  I got to drill with Nelson, which is always wonderful.

Triangles from guard.

From guard: fake a scissor sweep, then hook your toe under the thigh instead. Sweep hir AWAY from you. Note that you have to be really close to make this work- if you shrimped out too much getting set up for the scissor, it's really hard to lift the guy using just leg strength.

Same basic thing from standup.

My favorite choke: the one where you get a deep cross grip and then grab a handful of gi at the back of the shoulder to finish.  We turned our bodies to use the thigh to force the opponent's head down as if we were going to armbar, then swung back to finish the choke straight on. Weirdly, it's a chicken-wing pulling motion- yes, the very thing we are always told NOT to do. But it was beautiful. I found, while being the uke, that when the opponent swings that leg up, it makes you think he's going for a triangle or armbar, so you want to yank back- which will just make you choke yourself even harder.

Three spars with three white belt ladies. They are all game and trying hard. Gave them all some (I hope useful) pointers.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Uphill, then downhill.

The stakes aren’t just pride and emotion. They can get real serious, real quick- even if you thought you were playing for such penny-ante shit as your pride. –Campfire Tales From Hell

I am missing some classes because my insomnia rages unchecked. There are many times when I just do not feel safe to get behind the wheel. The doc has informed me that I may work my way up to four of these prescription sleeping pills (and presumably not die). I took two yesterday (I skipped the one-and-a-half step) and it did nada.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Standup, judo grips: Turn almost side-by-side with opponent and stick your near leg between hir feet really far back. When s/he shifts balance to the other foot to try to move away or seek a steadier stance, quickly yank your foot out and trip hir OTHER foot. Speed, correct timing, and getting the person offbalance are key.... as well as being a convincing actor and making the foe think that you really are fixated on that near leg.

Standup, you put an arm up to guard and the opponent grabs your wrist/forearm. Extricate arm (keeping opponent's arm) and scoot almost side-by-side again- only this time you grab the belt. Don't go to the back. This was just a setup, but it was almost irresistible to do a straight armbar from here. Unfortunately, the straight armbar involves stepping back, and Carlos wanted us to step forward.

Triangles from open guard, baiting opponent to yank hir sleeve cuff away from you so that s/he pulls one arm back.

One spar with Christy. I am always expecting her to smash me; she's technical, very strong, has MUCH better cardio, and some weight on me. I haven't rolled with her much in a while, but the last few times I have, I was able to control her. I even got a sub today (head and arm choke). I also had several pointers for her in regards to her upcoming competition.

One spar with a four stripe white belt girl. I was able to handle her pretty easily.

These two elderly dogs are still walking/hiking me into the ground, and it's embarrassing. The upside is that we are getting lots of exercise. Nor do they like to allow me to stroll along. Unless I work really hard- with constant attention- to rein them in, we are power-walking the entire time (regardless of terrain). One problem I'm running into is that many of the trails here go UP a mountain and then back DOWN. Coming down is a bitch on my bad knees, even when I'm not being yanked along by an impatient dog who never gets tired. If I have to walk downhill, I'd much rather do it FIRST, when I'm fresh.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Down five

No man, however civilized, can listen for very long to African drumming, or Indian chanting, or Welsh hymn singing, and retain intact his critical and self-conscious personality. –Aldous Huxley

I've lost 5lb from walking my dogs. I think the meds are also affecting my appetite (in a good way). I was worried about the typical weight gain that goes along with anxiety/depression drugs. Yet I didn't really want lunch yesterday, and had to make myself eat it (because I was going to class and knew I needed the fuel), and I didn't really want dinner either, but made myself eat it (because I knew I just had not eaten enough that day). I am snacking less at home, as it is disconcerting to have two dogs staring at me. I have been binging on a lot of junk food at work, partially because my insomnia is just making it really hard to get through the day. If I can get this insomnia solved, I think that will be less of a problem. Unfortunately, the insomnia rages unchecked in the face of presciption drugs.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. Standing guard pass to KOB. When opponent pushes at your knee, turn to hir feet and take a modified side control, propped on your elbow. Pick up hir top pants cuff and place hir shin between your shins. Grab hir other pants cuff and the belt or back waistband. Dive over and pull the person into your back mount. This was similar to what we did last week, so I was able to translate (and even figure out- and explain adequately- to Peter why his technique wasn't working). It's all about getting that knee hooked nice and snug with the opponent's knee. If it's too low, or too lose, you don't have adequate control of the opponent's body.

Several rounds of sparring, the first round with Cindy, whom I have not worked with in forever. So that was great (albeit exhausting!)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Brain Surgery

There’s a difference between inflicting lethal damage and stopping power. Someone can be fatally wounded and still functional enough to take you with them. Mostly it depends on how dedicated they are to taking you out. Pain alone won’t stop someone hellbent on killing you.   –Campfire Tales From Hell

Missed a day of hiking due to rain (still did the multiple mini-walks). Otherwise, still hiking/walking every morning.

I am on drugs! I have an antianxiety med and a sleeping pill. I insisted that the doc not give me anything potentially addictive, and no refills on the sleeping pills (if I want a refill, I will go back to the clinic and we will have a discussion about my level of reliance). It's only day 2, and I'm still on half-dosages of each. The only thing that has happened so far (aside from a mild headache) is that while dozing about 12 hours after taking the first half-tab of the antianxiety med, I had a bizarre mental picture of a bunch of bats and rats and pigs with sharp edges, flickering like newspaper on fire. Since I do not do substances (well, until now... sigh), I have never before had the experience of finding a thought in my brain that was obviously a foreign insertion. It was very odd. 

Thursday evening no-gi in Bellevue.

Various basic drills... with RUNNING LAPS between each. We even had to watch the demo of each drill WHILE we were running.

Short spars with rotating partners, no subs allowed. Lots of them- like 12 or 14. Fortunately the room was jam packed with purple and brown belts. There was one lonely white belt in the room (he looked up the line and stage-whispered, "Hey- is this an advanced-only class???").

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Rodrigo was there to teach tonight!

Great warmup roll with Casey. He let me slap on a number of subs, and get within a hair of finishing them, and then slithered out with ease.

Double leg setups shifting to single-leg. Scoop your arm (the one in front of the opponent) under hir thigh so that you are almost grabbing hir ass, and step backward while you pull hir to the floor. Place your hand on hir hip, "Slide into home" over hir thigh, side control.

Stand up in closed guard (don't forget to grab the sleeve cuff first!). As opponent opens guard and slides to floor, frame up your elbows on your knees and wedge yourself between hir knees. Press one knee to the mat and slide the *FAR* knee through, placing it in hir armpit (it is important to get this high). Make sure to keep your toe down until you backsit to move to side control.   This move- which is not exactly brain surgery, and I use it all the time- was AWFUL on the Stupid Side for some reason.  As usual, the first time I tried it on the stupid side, that's when the prof chooses to come by. He of course questioned why I can't do this very simple thing, and I said, "It's the Stupid Side," whereupon he instructed, "Do the Stupid Side again."   (Argh!)

This last technique actually *WAS* brain surgery......

Same entry, only when you press the knee to the floor, instead of hugging the head to pass, you take the arm closest to opponent's head and wrap it over hir thigh. This presents your shoulder the the mat near hir ribs (your back patch in hir face). Roll, and as you go over, catch hir leg and hook your knees together. If you do this right, as you roll upright again, you force hir into a roll. As s/he rolls, maneuver hir into your back mount. (You must hip escape a bit to make this work). Get hooks. Choke.

I have never done this before (although it has been done to me many times), and it hurt my brain- but Rodrigo demo'ed it about a billion times, so I was surprised when I succeeded. Even more surprised when my white belt partner marveled "You make it seem so smooth!"  Still, this is way too complex for attempting live at this point. It normally takes three times of a given technique coming around in the teaching rotation before it really starts to gel for me.

Lots of reps of all of these.

Found out that said white belt partner has NEVER sparred, so it was a good excuse to stay for one roll. She was assertive and heavy on top, but I was able to handle her, and give her some pointers that she seemed very appreciative of.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Walking and weeping

Freeing the body inevitably leads to freeing the heart.  –Gabrielle Roth

My cat died yesterday. He has been on borrowed time for several years now, so I thought I was prepared (as prepared as one can be for such a thing), but it is really hitting me hard. Could not do Thursday class. Cried a lot, which I do very rarely, and I hate it- partly because it plays hell with my already-awful sinuses. Now I am going to be congested as hell and headachey for days, even if I wasn't STILL crying off and on, which I am.

I have been walking every day with the dogs. Several shortie trips up and down the neighbors' road over the course of a day, to pee, plus one long walk/hike every morning, lasting an hour or two. We have been hitting many of the trails and parks along the Highway 2 corridor from Monroe to Stevens' Pass. Today we did the Heybrook Lookout trail.

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Warmed up by rolling a little with Peter. His grips are getting scary good, along with everything else. I was able to keep him off me for a while with good spider guard, though.

We drilled several leg drag passes. They were interesting ones, too, that I have not done before, but forgive me- I am just too fucking tired and weepy to notate them tonight. I think I did well by just going to class tonight and not crying on the mat.

Once again I have gotten out of the habit of staying after class to roll. Just so damn tired. I need to use a wet paper towel to cool off my face and then just sit for five min, and then I will almost certainly be good to go for at least one.

I have finally made a doctor's appointment regarding the fact that I can't fall asleep and can't stay asleep for more than 40 min at a time. I haven't slept more than two hours and change per night for a couple of months now, and that broken into 3 or 4 pieces.  I  am going to ask for a non-addictive, temporary course of sleeping pills.  I am also going to ask to try an anti-anxiety medication. I do not want to be on drugs. I do not want to be officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I have resisted this for so long, and I am really unhappy about it, but I am convinced that I have a brain chemistry imbalance. The fact that my mind won't ever stop spinning like a mouse on a wheel is certainly contributing to- if not causing- my sleep issues. This cannot continue- sooner or later I am going to make a serious error at work or behind the wheel, and someone else is going to suffer because of my resistance to getting help. I need to get it together before that happens. The appointment is on Tuesday morning.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The dog workout

Giving in to the urge to tell someone to fuck off can have lifetime results. Odds are good this guy will be out of your face and life in a few moments. But if you give in to the impulse, well, remember every time you “play”, you’re taking a chance.   –Campfire Tales From Hell

Well, it was not the caffeine. Nor the sugar.

I stayed on one soda per day (first thing in the morning) for a week.. Hardly any sugar, either. There was not one iota of change in my sleep patterns, my anxiety level, my energy level, or my weight. I am going to have to go to the doctor. Upside: now I can have my Dr Pepper, since I have proven that it doesn't do a damn thing to me.

Went hiking with CK last week- Twin Falls and Deception Creek. We were both tired, and not pushing hard physically. On her last day, we did a little stance work. Once again, just STANDING with CK is more exhausting than sparring with anyone else.

I got the dog on Wednesday. Well, dogS.... because I have White Knight Complex, I was unable to say no to the elderly dog's elderly buddy... and I consider myself damn lucky to have not ended the week with all three of them. The second dog is a foster- meaning I do not have to pay his vet bills. I have too many pets right now. It is a stressor. But they are all elderly or special-needs or both, and let's be real- chances are that one or another of them will kick off soon and I will be back to four, which is a number I feel I can cope with.

We are doing a ton of walking (which was part of the point of obtaining a dog). Up and down the neighbor's driveway, mostly, a ten-minute dirt-road stroll through the woods.  Yesterday we walked for two hours around Al Borlin Nature trail and downtown Monroe (where we were attacked  by a purse dog). Today we went to Big Eddy, which is only about 1.5 miles from my place.

The dog I picked is exactly what I wanted. She basically walks when I want to walk, and otherwise she is napping and completely unobtrusive and undemanding. It's like having a hiking buddy that you take out of a drawer when you want to walk, and then put away when you are done. The foster is proving to be more high-maintenence (no good deed goes unpunished). He's a dear, but he has a dismaying amount of energy for an elderly dog, and is constantly in my face. Tonight he was dragging me along on the leash (he wanted to RUN!!!), and when I tried to wear him out afterward with rowdy playing in the dog run, he wore ME out instead. Well, he is certainly going to be forcing me to get plenty of extra walking. It's going to be challenging for me to try to keep up with him, and even more challenging for my poor dog (who is game, but arthritic, and her legs are about half the length of his).

Thursday evening no-gi in Bellevue. It was fun to drill with Peter.

Pummelling, double-leg setups, Standing guard passes. Standing guard pass to KOB. Standing guard pass to KOB to back take. Two or three variations of the bottom person trying to defend, and the top person switching gears and completing the pass in a different way. I would have liked to get down the details of these, but I didn't blog it last night like I should have, and now the details are escaping my mind.

King of the hill: pass vs sweep, pass vs resist/submit. I got spanked; I drew exclusively very talented people. I did achieve one guard pass on a guy which surprised me. I hope he didn't hand it to me.

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Drill-Till-Ya-Puke night. All from standing guard passes, which is a real bitch on my knees (and my thighs). Standing guard pass to KOB. Standing guard pass to KOB to armbar. Standing guard pass to KOB to kimura. After working with each of these for a few minutes, we drilled each 100 times. I had to hustle to keep up with Chrisanne, whose Monkey Bar Gym work and clean eating have me eating her dust. My thighs are on fire. I did well with remembering to grab the pants on the armbar. Also worked on pinching my knees together, a persistant failing of mine. I did less well with the kimura. I get lazy with the grips, especially when I am tired and trying to go fast.  The many, many, fast standing guard pass reps put me in a dangerous place- when I get really tired, I am prone to rolling my ankle out and twisting it badly. I did that tonight, but fortunately it was not too severe- I was able to continue, and it's not swelling or aching much at all later (thank you gods).

Chrisanne and I had wanted to spar after, but we were both too wiped out.

My thighs are going to be twin pillars of pain in the morning. Not looking forward to being hauled along that dirt road, but it will be the best thing for them. (A little hair of the dog, har har.)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Day one of one-a-day

 What you do instead of your work is your REAL work. –Roger Ebert

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Standup: opponent has both hands laced behind your neck. You lace your hands over hir elbow, chicken-wing your arm out and step to that side. This twists hir spine uncomfortably and makes it easier for you to move your hands inside and grab behind hir neck instead.

Next, we went from the chicken--wing-and-sidestep to a double-leg. Note that you must plaster yourself right against the opponent and slide down hir body, otherwise you will not be close enough. Hug just above the knees.

Opponent is turtled in front of you. Sprawl, crossface, sash grip around chest, switch far knee in, pull opponent into your back mount. Three notes: 1)don't forget to grab the wrist at the end. 2)You must make sure your shin is pressing against opponent before you start to pull hir over, and kick that baby under *as* you are pulling. If you wait till after you have hir capsized, it's too late to shove that foot under.  3)Try to dive in a diagonal direction over the shoulder instead of pulling opponent sideways. I continue to find myself subconsciously resistant to this, as I keep feeling like I am just going to slither my tiny self over hir shoulder and plop onto the mat while s/he continues to turtle there like a rock. This doesn't make logical sense, because if THAT is how it is, I am not going to be able to haul this person sideways either. I have nothing to lose and a slightly better chance of succeeding if I go on the diagonal. I found it slightly more palatable if I made a point of shoving the shoulder aggressively to the mat as I went.

King Of The Hill, sweep versus pass (any guard, choice of the "king"). I didn't do all that great, but I was overmatched by everyone (they all outranked me except for one big muscley white belt).

I'm doing it. I am going- not quite cold turkey, but- one pop per day (first thing in the morning). This is day one. I am jonesing badly, but it helps that I have no Dr Pepper left in the house (just A&W root beer, which is great, but not quite as bad of a trigger). I also took the A&W out of the fridge- it is not so tempting when it is warm, and I have no ice.

I want to do this experiment to try to figure out if it will help my crappy sleep any. Also, I am wondering if the sugar-induced glucose roller coaster is contributing to the fact that I feel exhausted all the time. This latter question involves ALSO cutting down on solid junk food. That's going to be extra-challenging. Usually when I'm trying to reduce my pop, I console myself with extra junk food, and vice versa. I don't like being at this weight. I don't like being exhausted all the time. I don't like not being able to get to sleep, and I don't like waking up every couple of hours when I *do* manage to get to sleep. I don't like getting up feeling even more exhausted than when I went to bed. I don't like the idea of going to the doc and getting on some drug to try to get some sleep.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A double dose of Dave

The guys who are the most dangerous are usually the ones who- to use a poker term- have the smallest “tells”. It’s not the wild-eyed, drooling-in-your-face mad dawg who’s the most dangerous. (Although odds are good such a person will beat you bloody if you give him an excuse.) Be far more concerned about the guy who doesn’t seem concerned about your “message” of what a big bad ass you are. Take for example the guy who- calmly- leans back in his chair and keeps his voice level- while his hand floats out of sight under the table. If someone isn’t getting uptight about your threat displays, odds are you dun tree’d yourself a bad ‘un.   –Campfire Tales From Hell

Saturday lunchtime no-gi in Kirkland. Cindy was not there because she was at a seminar, but it was very nice to see Dave... and Dave... again.

 haven't been to a Dave class in a long time, and it was amusing as heck to see how much he is turning into Cindy. Not just the way he moves, but his SPEECH PATTERNS as he teachers are mimicking hers. It's a compliment. I'd love to be able to turn into Cindy. I doubt I have the raw material, though!

Standing guard pass vs replace open guard drills, standing guard pass to KOB drills, standing guard pass to KOB to stepping over the head and going to KOB on the other side. Note that when you step over, your shin should be touching the hip already.

Front mount to setting up what looks like it's going to be a mounted triangle, but then turns into an armbar. You do not need to step over and lie down. Dave placed his shin on the opponent's face. I hate kneeling on my partners' faces. The girl I was working with had no problem doing so to me. Thus her mounted triangle position and armbars were nice and tight, and mine were loose because I was trying to be gentle. Good for her,  you go girl!

Positional sparring from front mount. Retain vs sweep/escape.

The woman asked what belt I was, and I told her that this is no-gi, so it doesn't matter. I was trying to fly under radar for the people I didn't know (I like that we are not pressured to wear belts for no-gi at Kirkland), and I kept having to stop myself from automatically going to the front of the line when we lined up at each break. I did notice that after we did the positional sparring, when we lined up again, my partner deliberately moved over to my left to put herself- not me- at the end of the line.

Spars with my female partner, a guy I don't know, then Dave (the other one). I was able to control the woman easily. I was able to defend getting tapped by the guy, although I spent considerable time under side control. Dave is always nice to me and refrains from tooling me when we spar, but I got several chokes on him that were *almost* taps. I continue to stick my feet under people's armpits begging them to ankle lock me, and I should know better than to do that with DAVE, as he loves attacking feet.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brazilian buffet

"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."-- Grace Murray Hopper

Yardwork in the AM. Mowing, pulling blackberries, tearing out old chicken wire.

Thursday gi in Bellevue.

"Brazilian Buffet": ie, rotating spars with no breaks.

Cindy came in about halfway through, which was cool as I have not seen (or rolled with) her in forever.

My performance seemed not particularly terrible nor spectacular today.

I got yelled at by Carlos for setting up a kneebar on John.  Big Mouth exclaimed, laughing, "You can't KNEEBAR me!" and of course that got Carlos' head popping right up. John later admitted that I would have had that kneebar, and the "tattletale defense" was his last resort.  He's got 4 stripes on his purple belt, so he'd better get ready for those kneebars.

More yardwork after class.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Get off the wall.

The applications change, but the core remains. Being able to use those core principles requires thorough knowledge of the subject and not just a shallow look. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Yard work in the morning.

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Standup: judo grips. Grab your own lapel and turn your torso to break opponent's lapel grip (do NOT step back as you do this). Pull hir toward you with your own lapel grip, stepping BACK with the same-side foot as you do so. This forces opponent to step forward. Drop to your knee (same side) and stick your other leg back behind you so that your own knee will not be in the way as you grab opponent's heel (NOT HIR PANTS CUFF) and lift the foot. Pull on the lapel to assist opponent's fall. Side control.

Same entry, but before you can get side control, opponent swings far leg over to try to replace guard. Lunge forward and hug the thigh with the arm closest to opponent. Your head should be on the back of hir thigh. If you were smart, you did not let go of the ankle. Keep pressing that down to the mat so that you can scoot around to the opposite side. Side control. (Don't forget to go over the arm and under the head- I caught this error again and corrected it just as Carlos was coming over to correct me).

You have spider guard with feet on hips. Bring right foot over-and-in-and-around to "lasso". Opponent drops that knee to the mat. Bring that SAME FOOT underneath your other foot and hook the toe under hir other knee. Pause to pinch the arm between your knees and yank it in a bit. Now take the other foot off the hip and place it on the floor. sweep. Side control. Note that if you keep control of that arm and bend your leg, you can trap the arm with your leg as you sit up, which is a lovely detail.

Same entry, adding the same replace-guard attempt and pass as on the earlier technique.

Chrisanne did not show up tonight, and there was an odd number on the mat, so as usual I was the last kid picked for the kickball team. Carlos was waving simultaneously at the two white belt girls and at Casey & Allison. Good for me, for once I did not do the self-deprecating thing and automatically go with the white belt girls- I picked Casey & Allison. Bad for me, as soon as I got over there, I tried to self-deprecate anyway and huddle against the wall. Carlos is like, "GET OFF THE WALL." When there is a triad drilling, he wants to see quick and lively switching out; he does not want to see someone parked against the wall for minutes at a time. I had never seen this sweep before and I was anxious about messing it up in front of the brown belt and almost-brown-belt, but the only time I really faltered was when Casey distracted me by asking me unrelated-to-jiu-jitsu questions while I was trying to do the drill. I had to tell him to shut up and quit distracting me.

Didn't stay for sparring because I have been feeling a little weird all day. A little nausea, and off-and-on slight swimmy-head feeling. I hydrated some more but it didn't seem to help. Not sure what's up. 

I'm going to get a dog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   I will be doing a lot more walking once I have a hiking buddy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday night

"To die will be an awfully big adventure."    J.M. Barrie

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Spider guard pass. Apply pressure. When opponent pushes back with hir legs, shrug/jerk hir feet off your biceps and yank them to the side. End in a slight crouch with hir near shin propped on top of your thigh.

Inside DLR pass. Grips: pants at knee on opponent's leg side, low lapel (near waist) on other side. Press in against hir thigh. When s/he pushes back, Quickly skip your outside foot close in for balance and mule-kick the trapped leg out. Then go to the side and assume KOB. Do not let go of grips.

Sprawl on turtled opponent, crossarm beside neck, spin to the side, outside knee planted, take the back.

Many speedy drill reps. I worked with a white belt woman who hung in there surprisingly well for a white belt. She was almost dead at the end.

Long, fun roll with Chrisanne. We each got one good tap. Mine was a weird mutated gi choke that I wasn't sure would work. I think hers was a keylock.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Begging for an omoplata

 Japan has a concept called Shu-Ha-Ri. You can find it not just in martial arts, but in almost any traditional Japanese art.
The first stage is “Shu” which means “to preserve”. At this level, the student is expected to copy exactly what is presented until it becomes habit.
Then is the “Ha” stage, which means “to break”. Now the student starts to take apart and examine the material. With a strong base behind him, he has good examples of how things should be, and he has room to mess with things and determine the reasoning and principles behind them.
The final stage of “Ri” means “to separate”. At this point, the seeker is expected to take the core principles and make new expressions of them different from what he has been shown.  –Campfire Tales From Hell

Yard work in the morning.

Thursday no-gi in Bellevue.

The Revolution is in two weeks, so we are doing a lot of positional training and king of the hill.

I find KOTH in no-gi to be particularly frustrating, as my usual lag behind the curve is more noticable then ever here. When it's a "pass vs sweep", "sub vs escape" type exercise, there's very little room to recover from and compensate for the inevitable "I'm just going to hoist you over and place you where I want you because you're so tiny" maneuvers.

One roll with Ron, whom I have not worked with in a very very long time. Unfortunately it has not been long enough for *HIM* to forget that I like to snatch guillotines from standing, and he was able to defend successfully. We both caught ourselves sticking feet in one another's armpits begging to be footlocked. A persistant bad habit still needing more work.

Carlos pointed out another bad habit that many of us were doing... I'm not sure if I am doing it, but I need to pay attention and make sure I'm not... placing a hand on the mat beside opponent's opposite hip while passing guard, before getting fully past the legs. This is begging for an omoplata. You need to place the hand on the hip. It is entirely likely that I am committing this sin, as I tend to drape myself very low over the opponent while passing guard, and I don't like to brace on the opponent's body because I'm scared of getting swept.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Another toasty day on the mat

A wounded deer leaps the highest.  -Emily Dickinson

Friday night BJJ in Bellevue.

Still hot.

Same techniques as last night. I was paired with a brand new white belt, so had to walk her through things.

King of the Hill from spider guard- pass vs sweep.

One roll with Casey. He showed me how to deal with being in DLR and having the person back up like they're going to sit on your face.... if you have a gi grip, you can continue the roll and end on top.

Casey also suggests that I begin my straight armbars a bit more medial on the arm and creep down so that I'm certain of where the elbow is.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Whoo-hoo, live tripod sweep!

With developments in technical competence and the application of the technique in training, grading, or competition, the self confidence of the student improves. He sees his improvements as successful efforts on his part. Success breeds success, and success breeds self-confidence. The two go very much hand-in-hand. A successful and confident student looks forward to training and enjoys the learning environment. A happy student learns faster than an unhappy one because he enjoys what he is doing, and because the skills are consciously and subconsciously associated with pleasure, they are retained for longer. In that the reverse is also true- that failure breeds lack of confidence  and dissatisfaction with training- the learning environment has to allow for the student to succeed in what he is doing, no matter what his level of ability or competence.  Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

No-gi in Bellevue. It was very tempting to not go in today. It was 85 degrees in the house even after the sun had set (which it does at around 2pm even in high summer at my place- such is life in the mountains).

Of course Carlos shut the garage door and turned off the fans before he began class.  Guy is a sadist.

We started with a great deal of pummelling with rotating partners. This is a great way to work up a hell of a sweat on a hot day. Two of my opponents were male teenage white belts who were obviously discomfited with the fact that they were pummelling someone who had boobs, and that said pummeling could not be accomplished without coming into repeated contact with said boobs. I went a little hard and was just very matter-of-fact about it.

Standing guard passes. Press knee and hip, slide over thigh with near knee. Carlos corrected me on a persistant sin of mine- I fail to trap the near arm in side control. OVER THE SHOULDER AND UNDER THE HEAD. I need to ask Chrisanne to start calling my attention to it when I fail to remember that.

If foe turns toward you and tucks in a top knee shield- Underhook the thigh high up on your shoulder and pass on the opposite side. (Note that the forearm that is not hugging the thigh needs to be ALL THE WAY across opponent's waist. This is where I want to deploy yet another bad habit of mine- reaching up and placing it beside the opponent's neck.)

Now- opponent knee shields your first attempt to pass and then foils your second attempt by hanging that leg heavy (I use that defense frequently).... switch back to pass #1. Opponent (that little rat) now pushes on your knee to try to deny you yet again. Quickly switch the placement of your legs and drop both knees to the floor (note that getting both knees on the floor is the part that goes out the window for me when I try to do it on The Stupid Side). Hug that leg very closely to your torso and use the arm furthest away from that leg to reach over your head and catch the ankle/foot.  Push that leg down and away (don't get lazy and just drop it- PUT it where you want it) and pass. Don't forget to trap that arm.

A little king-of-the-hill... takedowns. (Did I mention that Carlos is a sadist?) I got a nice takedown on one of the aforementioned white belts.... took his back and then pulled him down and rolled into mount.  Otherwise, got pretty plowed by the rest of the guys and by Amy (who has great wrestling takedowns). One of the guys swept me up in his arms like a bride and laid me gently on the mat.

One incredibly fun roll with Amy, 20 or 30 minutes. Lots of standup, which is always a good thing. I got one tap on her, which was very exciting. It was a rear naked, after several near misses of same. I reminded her to keep her chin down, and warned that I would be watching her MMA fight next week and that if she let that girl get a rear naked on her, she was going to be answering to me.

I also got a sweep, which was much more exciting than the tap, as I rarely try sweeps live and even less rarely get one. And in no-gi, too! This was a tripod sweep, which I don't think I have *ever* gotten live (I consider it a complicated technique- too many different hand and foot positions need to happen at once for me to readily wrap my brain around). It worked like a charm, and just when I thought life couldn't get any better, I actually followed up by getting up and getting on top. Normally, when I am sitting on my butt with my feet in front of me, I have a bitch of a time getting up and getting on top with any speed or alacrity. On the rare occasion when someone goes down and I am caught in this position, I flounder there on my ass like a harpooned sea lion while they pop back up and pounce upon me. Recently we have done a significant amount of drilling of a technique or two that involved getting up and getting on top from this position, and it seems to have helped. I would be so happy to find myself past that particular sticking point... but we shall have to see if I can replicate the trick or if it was a freak fluke.

Amy of course got several things on me, primarily her excellent guard passes.

Anyway, it was a *really* fun roll... not just because of the sweep, the whole thing was fun- the type of roll that reminds me of why I do this. I need to try to roll with Amy more often. Starting from standup, if possible.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Compact pendulum sweeps

Danger arises when people think in only two mindsets, conversation or combat. When one side is trying to deny that they are in a dangerous situation and are trying to talk their way out of it, the other side has made a choice on some level to do violence and is merely looking for an opening.  –Campfire Tales From Hell

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Hot enough to fry an egg on the mat.

Grab-the-ankles sweep. Carlos scootched his hips right between his opponent's feet and used his feet on the opponent's hipbones. I tend to roll up almost onto my neck and use my knees, so it's good to keep in mind that there are other options.

Pendulum sweep. Instead of pinning opponent's arm across hir chest, we just pressed the elbow in with one palm. Tonight we were also hipping out much less than I tend to do, and using the bottom leg to shove much less than I tend to do. It looked very compact and effortless when Carlos did it. Didn't seem like it should work. But of course it did.

Opponent is in your guard with tight hold on your belt, elbows tucked. Grab hir wrist (same side) and hip up violently to make a space to slide your other hand underneath to grab your own wrist. Now you can push up and beak the grip. Yank opponent's arm across hir chest and hip out. Do not stick your far leg bewteen hir knees- this time we kept that far leg on the outside while hipping out quite a lot, then pulling opponent into back mount. Don't forget to trap the wrist once you have back mount.

I really wanted to spar, but it was just too hot.

Had a good online conversation with an artistic friend- music, books, writing. It's always stimulating to talk to other creative people.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ees THAT how eet's done?

During the rapid improvement period in skill learning, students are motivated by their rate of improvement. Their desire to learn is created by the success that they achieve. Concentration and commitment are facilitated by the rapid rate of technical development. However, once the rate of learning begins to slow down, it requires much more effort on the part of both the student and coach to maintain the attention and work rate. Eventually the leveling off of improvement begins to have a negative effect on the learning environment, which can bring about a reduction in performance. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

Two mile walk.

Thurs afternoon gi in Bellevue.

Double-leg setups.

Standup, with judo grips: let go of lapel grip and fake a grab at the leg to make opponent step back. Then you pull guard.

Same entry, only now opponent tosses elbow when you try to place your rt foot on hir bicep. Drop that foot to hir hip (heel OUT!) Move right hand to (cross) grip opponent's right sleeve cuff. catch hir rt heel with your other hand. Drop your left leg on the mat to hook behind hir other leg. If s/he fails to let go of your lapel, s/he will do most of the work of pulling you up so that you can jump on top.

This is a sweet sweep, but the number of steps is daunting. If I try to go too fast, I start skipping pieces (usually the hooking foot behind the second leg).

As you roll up out of this, keep opponent's foot trapped with your feet. Don't let hir bend the leg, unless you want to end up in half guard. This leg trap can turn into a nice kneebar. Of course Carlos walked over and looked at me just as I discovered this. "Ees THAT how eet's done, Keetsune? Like THAT?" "Uh, no, no sir, that is NOT how it's done! No sir, no!"

Positional sparring, spider guard, pass vs prevent pass... then King Of the Hill, same exercise. I was fortunate enough to avoid the two big spazzy white belt guys who were flinging purple belts around trying to dislodge spider guard positions with  the Captain Caveman Technique. Note that the pass where you change direction and move in backwards like you're going to sit on their face doesn't work on Mischa. Tried it twice and failed miserably both times. What DID work on him was a fine strategy of body-surfing versus hanging heavy while he was elevating me and trying to maneuver me into a bad position. I couldn't stop him from picking me up, but by a couple of strategic postings and by playing sandbag at the right moments, I ended up causing him to  inadvertantly maneuver me right into side control, ha ha.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

How to survive the Apocalypse

Note: there is no BJJ in this. There is a great deal of running about, which can be considered exercise.

Cliff's Notes version: So my trip turned into the Apocalypse.

Although I don't usually pay a lot of attention to either weather forecasts or to the PSG Facebook group, I had taken note of repeated warnings of mucho rain looming over the week. After my unpleasant experience last year with the rain, I took it seriously. I packed extra garbage bags, an extra slicker, an umbrella, some extra rain-resistant percussion options, and simply left several rain-fearing items at home. We always get one hard rain- so galoshes are a must anyway.

Kitsune (texting from O'Hare Airport): At curb, lower level, by rental car return. Screaming-orange hoodie with fox ears.

Dru (texting) I would expect nothing less.

I started the week off right by fooking up my very first heralding: I announced the coordinators' meeting at the correct time but the wrong place. I blame my numbers disability. They have numbered workshop areas, and my brain has a really hard time both retaining those and also recalling which is which. And I'm not the only one. Whenever I announce something happening at "workshop site eleven" I get a dozen people stopping me on the road to ask "Where is workshop site eleven?" So I have to either carry a map with me or be forced to reply "Hell if I know." The latter damages my air of authority, so I have to carry the map.   I really need landmarks instead of numbers.

Harry helped me put up the tent, then I had to set up Dru- who is crippled enough that she can do very little physically. Got both tents up before it started raining. Tried a new tarping strategy this year, since we commonly tarp the tent to within an inch of its life and it always leaks anyway. I figured that if it leaked in the first rain, I could take the tarps down and try something else for the following day. I did not unpack much.... clothespinned a few ziplocked items to to the inside tent seams, and left everything else double-trashbagged on the floor. I extracted items on an as-needed basis, and put them back in the trashbags after use. I was planning to retreat with my double-trashbagged sleeping bag to Derek's trailer if it got really bad.

The next day (Sunday) was load-in day for the non-staff. I was expecting it to rain all day, but it was beautiful. There was mud, of course.

In bygone times, one of the things I have most enjoyed was community drumming before the welcome meeting. It was the first chance to haul the drums out, and it started the meeting (and entire event) on a great vibe. About six years ago, Groove Troop took over and started doing a performance before the welcome meeting. Then for a couple of years, the sound guys were playing canned music. For the most recent couple of years, neither of those happened- but by then, people had been trained out of bringing their drums to the welcome meeting. I really wanted to restart that tradition. I hesitated to ask a bunch of people to haul their drums down, though.... if someone with more pull than I *did* have something planned, we would have hauled them down for nothing, and I would have felt bad. So I just recruited my twin. We picked up Finn and a couple of others as we went. Harry even came down and drummed on the opposite side of my drum, which was cool. It felt so good to do that, and I'm so glad we did it. Especially as it turned out that that was the only time my djembe got to come out at all.

The end of the welcome meeting was rained out.

We did do the opening rit.... I used a plastic tambourine instead of a drum due to on-and-off rain. For some reason, Groove Troop did not take over the drumming when we got to the bonfire circle as they usually do, so we procession drummers were kind of trapped there for a few hours. Which was okay, but I was tired. Lately I have tended to do processions- and sometimes the rits- and then bail.

Finn (proudly wearing his first real kilt... in the traditional manner): "Oh my God! OH my God!" (hopping about like a rabbit on meth) "Don't spray your legs with bug spray while wearing a kilt!!!!!!!!!"

Bo was already stressing about the Hunt. Our previous space was unusable because the site owners had built some gardening trellises in the clearing. I wasn't sorry. I never liked that space. The new space consisted of a section of small-treed woods, a dirt road which abutted the Faerie shrine, and two clearings. There was not enough room in either clearing to contain everyone. The finished Hunters would need to have their recovery space in the clearing #2. Not ideal, but I was okay with this. I just wanted to make sure the drummers would be able to see the kills.

One of the things I hadn't liked about the previous site was that it made most of the hunters' hunt spaces inaccessible to the villagers and extremely difficult to access by me and Bo. The Faerie shrine road would allow the villagers to see and send energy to the hunters. (It would also infuse a bunch of faerie energy into the rit, which could be good or bad.... this ought to be interesting....)  I wandered in the hunt space a while and found lots of poison ivy, stinging nettles, (some of which we could remove), a stream to cross in the dark, and some disturbing waste. I hauled out some rusty barbed wire, sharp-edged metal signs, pieces of a deer blind with nails in it, and marked the site of a piece of rebar post that I would need Derek to help remove. Resolved to go through this area several more times searching for more hazards before we let the hunters go back there. (And wearing long pants. ow. I am very allergic to poison ivy, and I had to actually lie down in the field and roll in the mud when I came out because the nettles felt like acid eating through my shins.)

Found out, to my dismay, that it wasn't the lightning that had caused Moonfeather and Selena to banish us to the sweat lodge last year. It was mud. They were anxious about liability if someone slipped in the mud in the hunt area. That upset me because I wanted to soldier on (OUTSIDE the sweat lodge) even if it was raining. This news made it much more likely that we might end up in the sweat lodge again even if it wasn't actively storming... what were the chances of not having mud in the space, when it had already rained a few times and we were expecting more? I really didn't want to be in the sweat lodge again.... although Chante was not there this year, so if we had to do it, we could and would. I began to push hard for having the hunter spaces in the field along the treeline as an alternative to the sweat lodge. The top of the field was reasonably dry and non-slippery. Bo didn't like that idea, and I'm afraid I made myself rather obnoxious pushing it repeatedly. The sweat lodge thing just really sucks for the villargers and drummers, and I don't want to do that ever again unless the ONLY alternative is to cancel altogether.

The Hunt coordinating team spent much of Saturday, Sunday and Monday having multiple meetings and- er- "discussing" our limited options. The threat of having to cancel altogether was hanging over our heads like the Sword Of Damocles. This was very frustrating to me.... but as Bo rightly pointed out, it would only take one really bad injury for Moonfeather and Selena to put an end to the Hunt permanently.

(this is not a lake. This is a campground.)

Monday started with rain, and Moonfeather as usual was extremely resistant to the idea of having the morning meeting in the pavilion. She never wants to do that, I don't know why. Anyway, we had it in bonfire circle, and it rained on and off, finally deluging us near the end and driving everyone back to shelter. I had the doumbek, so did get to participate in the drumming, although it's not the same without the djembe. (That thing cost over $100 to ship this year- ONE WAY- it's getting to the point where it will seriously be cheaper to buy a fucking djembe onsite every year and then give it away at the end of the week.)

I had a dance date with Eric on Monday night, but the rain started pounding in earnest in midafternoon and continued to pick up the pace therafter. An emergency staff meeting ensued. The creek was rising. I am camped beside the creek. I was only mildly concerned. The bank was pretty high, and we had gotten hella rained on before without it getting anywhere near high enough to worry me. Some people sounded worried, though.... I had work to do, but I ran back to camp and got my car keys, my twin's car keys (which she had given me in case I had to retreat to her car), my drivers' license, credit card, and the itinerary for my return flight. The drums were safe at Herald Camp in Derek's trailer. I looked around and decided that life would go on if I lost all the rest. Then set off to Herald- which I did for about the next ten hours almost nonstop, running through knee-high mud and pausing now and then to carry bins, haul tents, and push cars out of mud.

It was raining so hard that you almost had to breaststroke to walk. You couldn't hear someone standing with their lips touching your ear and screaming at you. I did the best I could, and so did Derek and Dru and my underheralds (of which I had only two.... I had already released the one who was half-blind and had a bad hip, deciding that she was unfit to this challenge).  But it was the Apocalypse. When the end of the world comes, that's what it's going to look like.  I was Heralding The Apocalypse.

They started evacuating hundreds of cars out of the flooding back lot. I don't know how they did it, but we ended up losing only six cars. Dru was too busy heralding to try to go save her car. (Do I know how to pick my co-coordinators or what? This chick takes her job seriously!) Not that she could have saved it anyway, as in her condition it would have taken her until NEXT Friday to get down to the back parking lot. At some point she threw her keys to Dawnwalker, who ran down the road howling, "What does Dru drive? What does Dru drive?" (This is going to be a new chant in Herald Camp next year.) She ended up turning the keys over to Rhonda, who knew no better what Dru drove. Poor Rhonda was reduced to crosstrekking the back lot, stumbling and skidding amongst hundreds of cars in the downpour, clicking desperately at the key fob and waiting for a returning beep. Of course Dru's car was in the very back row at the far end. When Rhonda finally found it, she actually dragged a tarp over the seat before she got in- being head to toe mud from repeatedy falling in the parking lot. She saved the car and didn't even get mud on the seats.

We started evacuating the people along the creek. At some point I found myself with an extra few minutes on my hands and decided to see if I could save any more of my belongings. Since almost everything was still sitting in double trashbags, it was the work of only a few minutes to pull down the ziplocs clipped to my tent seams and toss all the stray items into the trashbags. I ended up with four trashbags stuffed with all of my gear and belongings. I hauled two of them to the road, and there was Brian in his golf cart. He took them, and I went back for the others. There were Talon and my twin- they each took a bag and disappeared. All four bags later reappeared in Herald Camp none the worse for wear. I was now a bona fide refugee- fleeing the destroyed remains of my home with all of my worldly possessions in trash bags.  I bid a bitter adeiu to the case of Dr Pepper and two cases of Slim Fast sitting beside my tent.

Thank Gods for Finn. He's Derek's son, eighteen, young, strong, and he's desperately in love with me. He was one of my Herald minions for the day, and I ordered him around like a serf- heralding, hauling, fetching, message-carrying, he did everything I asked him to with a cheerful and waterlogged smile.

We moved my twin out, and everyone else along the creek. Then everyone on that side of the pond. The staff brought trucks and carts up and we just flung everyone's crap into them and hauled ass out of there. The smaller tents, once empty, were being picked up by teams of four- one on each corner- and marched down the road held over their heads.

By the time I got a chance to go back to my campsite for a look-see, it was under two feet of rushing water. The tent was gone. I later found that someone(s) had collapsed it and dragged it up to higher ground- along with (to my embarrassment) a pile of Slim Fast bottles and Dr Pepper cans. People's cars and entire camps were being washed away, and someone was running around picking up my Dr Pepper cans.

Harry, Finn and my twin went back hours later (without me) to see if anything else could be salvaged, and my twin- since she reads my blog- was able to instantly identify my wreckage by the presence of the Dr Pepper cans piled on the mounds of soggy detritus. To my further dismay and shame, the three of them actually loaded up all those fucking Dr Pepper cans into Dru's wagon along with the tarps and hauled them back to Herald camp.

Dru got stranded at the pavilion and ended up stuck there for most of the night- triaging the people who had lost their campsites and had nowhere to go, and babysitting for people who were trying to move campsites and needed the sprats out of the way and safe while they did this. Others donated extra tents, bedding, and took orphan campers back to their own camps with them.

Kitsune: "Your son's been my heroic slave for two days. I may sleep with him after all."
Derek: "Tell Rhonda that."
Kitsune: "No."
Rhonda (shouting from down the road): "Tell me what??!!!??! TELL ME WHAT??????!!!!"

By around midnightish, we had everyone moved who desperately needed to be moved, and all the cars moved that were able to be moved out of harm's way. It was incredible. This was a campsite of a thousand people. We moved at least 1/3 of the campsites and probably 3/4 of the vehicles. The staff was a well-oiled machine, and everyone was running around helping others before they even thought about their own needs.

A huge live tree fell on a (fortunately unoccupied) camper in the middle of the night and totalled it.


Usually our rainstorms at this site have high winds screaming across the pond. If there had been winds thrown in with this storm, people would have died. No question.
If this had been anywhere else, the Red Cross would have been deployed. Maybe the National Guard. We had a thousand people- more than in many small towns. Many of them elderly, disabled, etc.

I have a new respect for the homeless. It's difficult to keep track of your stuff and stay organized when you are living out of trashbags.

Dru (over staff channel radio): "Are you coming back over here?"
Kitsune: "No. I'm moving in with Harry. I know it's sudden, but it just seems so right."

I was fortunate enough to have the choice of moving into Derek's trailer, my twin's car, or Harry's camper. I picked the camper. I love Harry, but I hate living in close proximity to even people I love. Yet, desperate times and all. And I just wanted to put on some dry underwear because I couldn't remember what that felt like. I spent all of Monday in a sopping purple velvet tank dress with a torn and knotted-together transparent rain poncho over it.

Tuesday morning: Harry helped me hang up six clothelines full of my wet things, then made me scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast. I was dry and felt like I was living in the lap of luxury. As I was about to do the dishes, yet another staff meeting was called.

My thoughts: a lot of people had already flown the coop, and we would probably lose a lot more today. But the ones who stayed were going to have the party of the century. After what we had accomplished over the previous evening and night, I was feeling ten feet tall and raring to do the Hunt. I sidled up to Bo and said, "So, about that edge-of-the-field idea...."

Moonfeather and Selena had different plans. They had decided to shut down the entire event and boot everyone out.

Disbelief. Dismay. Grief. Frustration. Anger. Bitterness. Tears. Arguing. Resignation.

Half the portajohns were in accessible, and the showers were down with no hope of resurrection. If nothing else, the health department would shut us down just for that.

Morning meeting: Just because the universe is perverse in this way, it was a gorgeous sunny morning with butterflies spiralling, birds trilling, and a whole bunch of triumphant, relieved people dancing and singing and laughing because they had survived the Apocalypse.

They told everyone.

Disbelief. Dismay. Grief. Frustration. Anger. Bitterness. Tears. Arguing. Resignation.

My voice was an aspirated croak- but miraculously, Dru (whose day it was to be in charge of Heralding.... I had been in charge on what was officially the Worst Day Of PSG EVER) had all three minions show up for work, and a couple of extra volunteers besides. I was able to rest my voice for the first half of the day, which was fortunate as there was a buttload of Heralding to do all day long and the next day as well.

We found ourselves pressed into counseling and diplomatic negotiations as well. I was thoroughly cussed out BY NAME down in Rainbow Camp. Knowing emotions were high, I didn't really take it too personally- but it was a bit wounding to be cussed out BY NAME. I also had to (several times) herald a long list of people whose cars needed to be moved NOW because they were blocking others in. One woman ran up to me bawling her head off. She and her family were packing up as fast as they could, they were traumatized, and because she was on this "naughty list",  she felt as though I was reprimanding her. I had to stop and talk her down.

Zero (going in for a hug)
Kitsune (holding up hand): "I'm really sweaty and smelly."
Zero (husky whisper): "Good."

We got a lot of people out that day, but there were just too many- and too many vehicles stuck- to get them all out. Fred had to winch upwards of 100 vehicles out of the mud, one by one.

All of the workshops, riutals, concerts and other programming were cancelled- but every musician on site converged that night to perform a "bardapalooza"- the best part of which was when one would start a song and the rest would join in as best they could, winging it. Wonder of wonders, Eric appeared. So we got our dance date after all.

That night, the people who were left set determinedly to work to dispose of what had been intended as an entire week's generous supply of alcohol. Between the pavilion and Herald Camp, I was accosted by three separate people weaving along with a bottle in each hand, weedling me to help them finish it off. I got invited to a half dozen Bacchanalias. Harry had to be half-carried home by some buddies. I think Dru and I were the only sober people within a two mile radius.

In the morning, Moonfeather sent me out to herald. The message boiled down to "Get The Fuck Out ASAP". It was not even 8am, and most of the remaining campers were hung over in bed. I did not use my pot lid and spoon to bang. I did not linger. I yelled and then fled.

I had to help pack up my twin, which was bitter as this is going to be her last PSG for at least a few years- and what a finale! Glad we got that one drumming session in at the welcome meeting.

Kitsune: "I had a dream about you last night."
Zero: "Are you going to tell me about it?"
Kitsune: "Nope."

(the sign says "to water". Just in case you can't find the water.)

I would like everyone to know that- even after being told that I had just gone through a bona-fide natural disaster- United Airlines raped me an extra $200-plus to change my ticket so that I did not have to spend the next five days sleeping on the floor at O'Hare.

Before the fest, I had actually been pricing camper rentals due to the (now minor-seeming) trauma I had had with the rain last year. They are all of course way out of my budget. When I got home, there was an envelope waiting in my mailbox. It contained an escrow refund check for (what is to me) an eye-popping amount. Normally I would funnel such a thing straight back into the mortgage (If I make only minimum payments, I will be paying that thing well into my eighties), but the timing would seem to be a clue-by-four that I should use this money to rent myself an actual hard-shelled six-sided structure in which to weather PSG next year. So I will. (Even a small cargo trailer would suffice to keep the drums and sleeping bag dry..... and I no longer own a tent!)

So now I am feeling mostly depressed, with anger edging in. I know this is nobody's fault, but this is my one vacation of the year- I count on it to fuel myself up for the rest of the year, and it costs me literally thousands of dollars which I can ill afford to flush down the toilet. It was quite an adventure, and a miracle than nobody was seriously hurt, and seeing the way everyone pitched in to help one another was almost enough to restore one's faith in humanity. But yeah, these next few weeks at least are going to be emotionally tough.

Applying copious "purring cat therapy".