dal niente

Month: August, 2006


F: “You know, ‘ryu’ also translates to school.”

J: “Really?”

F: “You never noticed?  I thought you did martial arts.”

J: “Well… I guess that’s true.  A lot of japanese schools end with ‘ryu’, but I never really took any japanese styles except for a day of aikido.  I just never connected the dots.”

F: “So… technically your alias could mean ‘The Jin School’ or something.”

J: “That’s not bad.  It’s kinda… fitting.  It’s sure better than something cheezy like Jin Dragon.”

F: “Jin Dragon sounds like some 16 year old anime freak who thinks he hyperactivity is super saiyen 2.”

J: “Man, that’s kinda nice though.  I mean… to be identified by a paradox that is just your own way of thinking.  It’s sorta romantic.”

F: “I don’t think romantic is the word you’re looking for.  It’s spelled more like full of shit.”

J: “Hey, I didn’t chose the name.  I’m just playing the cards I have.”

F: “So why do you still use that name anyway?”

J: “Dunno.  Souvenir I guess.”

The rooms were  a sharp contrast to his own house– while his parents liked to decorate everything, as if guided by the principle that effort (no matter how convoluted) is what makes home home no matter how tacky or typical, his grandparents’ house was effortless.  White walls.  They’d ben that color since he could remember.  While his home had been colored, wall papered, acessorized with paintings and shelves and wall units and photographs, his grandparents house was like a time capsule.  The furniture was moved here and there, but it was the same stuff.

The bike ride to his grandparents had tired him out, and as he lay down across the large three section sofa, he looked across the living room to the single seater– when he was young, he could fit in that, and he’d fall asleep, his head draped over one arm rest and his legs dangling over the other.  The only time he sat properly was when slurping down a bowl of instant noodles while watching Peter Pan or The Raiders of the Lost Ark for the hundredth time.

He woke up only twenty minutes later, no longer feeling tired, but feeling stiff– the couch was kinda worn after all, and was more like a padded bench at this point.  Walking down the hall, he found the door to the stairs down.  When he was younger, this door had a little latch on it so that he couldn’t fall down the stairs when no one was looking.  Once, he’d tobogganned down the spiral staircase in his baby walker, and come out unscathed and absolutely ecstatic, which was why the latch was there in the first place.

The latch was still there, but there was no reason to ever lock it anymore.  That had been what… twenty years ago?  Twenty years that there wasn’t a reason to change it– so it had remained, like the white walls.

He went downstairs and there he saw the open basement– the extra bed against the wall, the extra couch; the mini-bar that was never used for anything but storing boxes.  And he remembered coming down here, as lately as perhaps just 7 or 8 years ago when he had first started kickboxing.   The wood floored basement was the only open space to move around without breaking anything during the rainy days.  The basements were always his sanctuary.  He never minded the cold.

He went to the middle of the room, and sat down, not smiling, not frowning, just breathing in the room.

His granparents voices could be heard suddenly from upstairs wondering where he had gone, and so he got up, turned off the lights and went up to eat a lunch of noodles.

There is a nurse at work who is always so very stressed out.  I ask her simple little questions and it’s as if every one of them comes out as a pointed accusation or something. People need to chill out.

Block, absorb, parry, dodge or intercept.


Consider not fighting the rock with another rock– but by wrapping it with paper.


One of the doctors at work today asked me, “So (Jinryu), are you in medschool or something like that?”

“Uh, nope. Actually, I’m an english lit student, so I’m likely to die a penniless pauper.”

“Oh my GOD! That’s so amazing!”

“Uh, it is?”

She goes on to explain to me that she’s so fed up of people working at the hospital who are all doctor wannabes, because then they keep on sucking up to get references and stuff from her.

“Should I start sucking up then? You know, just so you’re more comfortable?”

She laughs, and sighs.  Apparently she wanted to get into arts when she was younger, but didn’t have the guts to try it out.  Now, she’s sort of taught herself to enjoy being a doctor, because that’s all she’s got.

Well, a compliment is a compliment.  But in all honesty– it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be an english lit major (I should probably have gone into creative writing, had I known it existed, or education).  At the time, it wasn’t anything ‘brave’ to move from sciences to arts– it just so happened that I sucked at sciences.

“But make no mistake– anybody can look under the hood, anybody look at what’s going on inside a body.  But artists are the ones who actually *see* what’s inside,” she tells me.  “That’s totally awesome.  Good for you.”

Well, I don’t usually hold doctors as really higher humans than anyone else– everyone’s got their thing, after all, part of the big picture– but I’ll chose to give credit to those who compliment me 😉


They call it Stembar Justice.


The other night, some asshole on a racer bike cut me off on my way down the hill from work.  He cut me off, then dinged his little bell, then turned around to look, as if to gloat that he had just passed me.

Well DUH your bike is faster asshole, you’ve got 28″ wheels and I’ve got 14″ wheels on Dahon.  If you can’t pass me, you’re pretty much not just an asshole but also an incompetant.

But I can’t stand people who make a big deal out of passing you– I mean, when I pass someone, it’s not as if I have to tell them “Look dude, you’re going too slow”.  No.  A pass is a completely, emotionally neutral situation that is understood as one of the basic scenarios of the road.

But there’s a difference between passing and cutting off.  Cutting off is dangerous, and stupid.  It’s also an agressive maneuver that pretty much states your low regard (or lack of regard, the cut-off was performed on someone in the blind spot) for the safety of others.

Well, you know how on most bikes, there’s a handlebar, and it sorta makes a forward T-shape with the main axel of the steering mechanism?  That’s called the “stem bar”.  And he got a swift case of stembar justice just after cutting me off.

It was as if, as I cursed him silently in my head, some sorta god heard or the pendulum of karma came full swing.  Just as he passed me and turned around, dinging his bell like the asshole that he was just to make eye contact, a car about 50 feet ahead started pulling out of parking.  Of course, since he was cutting me off, he was going faster than I was.  To top it off, since he had wasted that moment to rebalance himself enough to look back at me, he had a lot of trouble rebalancing to maneuver–

And so, he barely managed to stop himself in time to prevent himself from hitting the car that was pulling out.  As I passed him casually from the side, I think I heard him swear under his breath as his bike almost flipped forward, and in order to prevent it he was forced to hobble-walk and take the stem bar of his bike in the groin.


That’ll teach you.


For the record– I’m not one who makes situations personal.  I don’t initiate things like this.  If i’m going to pass someone, I don’t cut them off– and I understand that everyone bikes at their own pace.  If you pass me, I don’t care either, as long as it’s a safe pass.

But– if you can’t display some etiquette, well.  Humanitarian as I am, I tend to care less about your safety and tend to revel more in your injuries.


But that’s just me.

Fighnights Round 3

I am looking for people who are good at Fightnights Round 3.  Did I say good?  I meant I’m looking for pros, because the rest of you buttom mashers don’t cut it.

Save me a chair, I’ll be back.


This isn’t the first time it’s happened… but it’s sort of now that I’ve pinpointed the method to acheiving this state.  Usually, it was random.  But now, I think I figured out how to turn it on by sheer force of willpower.


I had just stepped out of my house after an intensive, 10 hour cramming session of Ancient Chinese History (that’s right, half a semester in the last 10 hours before the exam) and I was met by a setting sun down to the west.  I walked to the bus stop, firing up my dad’s MP3 player (which I had comandeered to try and ease my history filled headached brain in a last offering before the exam).

“American Pie” rolled up on the queue.


I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to that song but it’s a fucking great song.  I haven’t a clue what it’s about.  But I feel some energy from it. And i don’t know– it triggered something.


As I got onto the bus and got to roll by my hometown, spots of light and shadow taking turns on my face as sunlight filtered through passing maple foliage, I was hit by a moment of enlightenment. 

Or was it ignorance?


And that was the epiphany.  That enlightenment is like a form of ignorance.  Because you think you know. But you know, there’s always something more to know, isn’t there?  So enlightement in itself is probably a false concept.

This is a bit hard for me to explain.

I don’t know why, but that sort of self-realization made me feel really good for some reason.  It’s as if the idea that perfection is impossible, yet, the imperfection can still be enough, the imperfection can parodoxically be enough, and that makes it perfect, even if for only a moment,– it just felt really satisfying.


Meanwhile, the lyrics of American Pie rolled by, my brain trying to figure out what the poet was trying to say.  And I thought I knew, then I figured I was probably wrong– but in the end, it didn’t matter.  I’m not trying to sound nihilistic– but being able to learn as much as I did in a single day felt really good. 

And being able to tell myself that for all I’m trying to learn, I can at any point tell myself “okay, you can stop and be happy now” was a real load off my back.


I was very, very happy for that moment that I spontaneously smiled I think.  I can’t be sure, i don’t remember that detail.  Does it matter?

But I let the feeling go– discontent is in some sense what keeps me going.  If i’m happy, I don’t progress.  But in a sense, what made me happy was knowing that I could be happy, and I can do that whenever I want.

Tcjinryu says:
so, like, are you starting to see the future or dead people with your bummed eye yet?
Tcjinryu says:
i hear people get all sorts of strange enhancements in senses when they lose one
Z says:
Tcjinryu says:
Z says:
No, wait…
Z says:
Tcjinryu says:
Z says:
Definitely not.
Tcjinryu says:
something you’re not sure about?
Z says:
I thought maybe I was seeing the future, but it turned into the present.
Tcjinryu says:
ah! but technically, you’re looking at the past since the events happened a light-moment ago
Z says:
True, true.
Tcjinryu says:
you’re only now just perceiving it!
Z says:
Dear God!  Causality has become a myth!
Tcjinryu says:
we are all just BLINDLY flailing into the future and we can’t even see what we’re doing!
Z says:
I can never truly perceive anything as it happens, and so any data I might receive is hopelessly removed from its originating source!

Focus, unfocus

We can learn something from the mechanics of a camera lens.

Aperature affects your range of focus.  Say you have a subject that you want to take a picture of– a person, standing in front of you, with a poster-covered wall behind them.  If you set the aperature one way, you can take a picture such that the person will be in focus and the background will be out of focus.  On the other hand, you can set the aperature so that all of it is clearly visible at once.

Why don’t people just set things on the ‘all visible’ mode?  Well, light requirements aside and other technical considerations aside, the reason is because when you get a photo, having only a particular thing in focus helps maintain the viewer’s concentration on the intended subject.

Philosophically though, wouldn’t it be nice to have the whole picture all the time?

There are so many people out there who get caught up with the idea of definitions– theoretical, ‘pure’ examples of things.  In my opinion, this is all a waste of time.  Not just because of the cliche mantra that ‘a thousand travel books aren’t as good as one trip’.  But because the ability to analysze something to death is only a worthwhile skill if it can contribute to an overal understanding of the whole.

There are talkers.  But how many movers and shakers do you know?

If you look up perfectionism in most student handbooks, the term usually comes with a lot of negative connotations.  Perfectionism is viewed, ironically enough, as the greatest ennemy of progress– because people spend so much time getting caught up in creating the perfect plan that they never get to the action phase until it’s too late.  Because people fail to see the bigger picture, being too caught up in details.

It is not that details aren’t important.

But it is that in the grand scheme of things, left or right, up or down– it is not these individual distinctions that matter, but the underlying purpose of these distinctions in the first place.

For every thing defined, there is a divide— between what is, and what isn’t.  Between what’s included, and what’s excluded.

Communication isn’t possible without definite definitions of course– however, people should go beyond the prepackaged bits of information.

Products, commercial, intellectual or otherwise, follow some particular templates.  The thing is that templates make things faster– but they’re far from all fitting.