dal niente

Month: March, 2007

Nobody needs heroes

When you look at all this, do you see a poster full of chairs, or do you see an arsenal of pain-dishers?

  • Agressive people:
    • For people you don’t know:
      • People like to hear you say “I’m sorry”
        • If you do it right, it’s really easy to diffuse a lot of ugly situations.  This is probably one of the best ways to diffuse a one time situation against the occasional agressive person.  Especially useful in the streets.  Give your agressor a chance to “save face”– say you’re sorry, and prevent a fistfight.
    • For people you DO know:
      • WIth people you run into often, saying “sorry” when you’re not at fault is not good to get into a habit of doing. If they are constantly tipping the scales and you constantly give in, that’s not good.
        • The sooner you set abusive people straight, the better.
        • It might be necessary to ‘teach them a lesson’ but again: remember, people are very prideful. If you try and teach them a lesson, one or both of two things will happen.
          • (A) They will fear you, to the point of submission
            • Which may be good in the short run, but in the long run this has negative effects on your relationship with that person because that person might only be temporarily submitting but with the intention of future vengeance (which means another confrontation in the long run)
          • (B) They will resist more, and the confrontation will just escalate until one of you can dominate the other into submission to satisfy the (A) option.
        • You want them to agree with you, not simply be dominated by your will. There’s a fine line between submission and agreement.  It all has to do with pride and a sense of free will.  Play on that.  You can often get the same results with a bit of smooth talking.
        • Your objective should be to returns the ‘energy of the system’ to zero, which is the way it should be.  Be a “karma killer”– don’t invest any bad mojo if you don’t have to.
    • People have different analytical abilities.  Some people are plain stupid.
      • Nevermind that you have a black belt. If they don’t know that, or if they don’t know what a black belt is, or underestimate your ability, they don’t know what kind of harm they can put themselves in by tangling with you.
        • Remember– the point is to arrive at a non-violent resolution.  Part of that means recognizing that not all neutralization techniques, such as holding your ground and showing no fear, have the same effect on all people.
          • If you hold your ground and show no fear, not everyone understands that as you being solidly confident in your ability to physically protect yourself.  Some people take this as outright defiance, and this might actually escalate the situation.
          • Of course, on the fly in a potentially dangerous situation, processing your analysis is very difficult because you have very limited time to make descisions.
    • Rule of thumb: always be alert, and try to keep a minimum safe distance from which you have enough space to react and protect yourself.  This is very important. Potential threats are two dimensional; that is to say, space and time.  If you are short on distance, there’s not much you can do unless you’re
      used to those sorts of hostile situations.  Shortening your reaction time or is not something you can do on command easily, nor is it something you want to muck around with.  You’re not Jet Li– you’re not going to stand chin to chin with someone and just ‘concentrate’ so when they throw the first move out, you’re going to break their arm.  No– when you are short on time, you compensate by increasing the distance. That artificially inserts a time gap between action and result.  By increasing your distance between you and your agressor, you increase the amount of time you have to react.
      • Be conscious of your agressor’s body language.
      • Be conscious of your own body language.  If you give off signals without knowing it, you might escalate things.
      • It is when you KNOW what YOU want to do that you shorten the distance and attack.  Shortening the distance, or bridging the gap, isn’t just about the physical space– it’s about shortening the amount of time between you and your agressor so that you, in your decided state of mind, will attempt to press an advantage by taking mental initiative and putting him on the deffensive.  When you close in on your agressor, you MUST be ready to attack. Otherwise, there is no reason to be getting close.  Your opponent’s reaction time doesn’t increase when you get closer– in fact, he gets sloppier.  What that usually translates to is that any attacks that he does when you pressure him in this way are going to to be random– that means, among other possibilities,  that he might not even be able to protect himself and may simply be reflexively trying to strike you.  When someone doesn’t think about their own safety, that’s when they have the potential to hurt other people the most: thus goes the saying, cornering an animal can get YOU hurt.
      • Bottom line– keep your distance, give yourself time. This is being deffensive.  Maintain your space and your time by moving around. Put obstacles between you and your agressor so that you further insert lags into his actions.
        • But don’t put a dinner table between you if he’s really hostile. That’s like saying “Oh, so you don’t like me? My, look at this all this glass and cutlery!”
        • If you DO close the distance, do your job and get back out. Close range and short time make for messy faces.

… I think everyone should get into at least a few friendly fights– it’s a very important experience, I think, to know what it feels like to get hurt.  It’s also useful to know what it feels like to be ‘stressed out’.   A lot of people who I see get punched in the face for the first time really freeze up; the punch doesn’t jolt their brains into altertness of the threat, but instead has the negative effect of whoring all their brain’s attention to the pain itself.   This is generally bad. It’s only in movies that the first punch is the only punch.  Well, I guess it can be– but that’s usually only the case if the first punch put you down, and they’ve switched to kicking you in the ribs.

For all those folks who thought highschool at RWA was a picnic of elitists and nerds, let me point out that in the bathrooms, nevermind the school uniforms or the good grades– those nerds still were human, and they still got into fights.

And i think this is general idea– that people need to get more familiar with their bodies reactions. I’m not a kung fu grandmaster or anything, but a simple example is that I haven’t tripped and hurt myself in years.  Why? Nothing fancy.  When I do trip, I always regain my balance or break my fall in a worst case scenario.  If I roll on my ankle, my body goes limp so I don’t break my joint. Things like that.  Small little things that, if it were something else, i’d be hearing the next day about a broken nose or a fractured wrist.

The broken nose thing is a true story– though I really can’t beleive how someone would fall forward from tripping and land flat on their face.  (I mean, where are your arms dude? Tied behind your back?)

Anyway. The reason for the poster with the chairs at top of this post is because yesterday, I broke a chair on someone, professional wrestling style.  I was coming up a downtown sidestreet when, in front of my eyes maybe a dozen yards away, a middle aged woman had her boutique bag swipped, grab and run style.  The guy who grabbed the stuff was running in my direction down a mostly empty sidewalk, bowling past pedestrians.

What did I do? I stepped to the side as if to get out of his way cowering, reached over, grabbed a wooden chair then spun around.  The timing was almost perfect and I caught him in the chest.  It’s not quite like movies where chair breaks into a thousand bits– I did, however, end up with the back of the chair in my hands with the butt-supporting and legs part broken clean off.

The dude flew into a parked car, dropped the bag, but scrambled to his feet and kept on running.

Horray for me! I saved the day!

…or not.  In his fall or in my whacking or in hims slamming into the car, he had apaprently broken the content’s of the lady’s bag.  It was from the Linen Chest, which is to say, a place that sells crystal and china. (I hope you kept your bill)

The lady had a foreign accent but didn’t sound to pleased with how I handled the situation.

(You’re welcome.)

I didn’t stick around to file a police report or anything, it seemed like a waste of time and the lady didn’t speak enough english for me to understand if she wanted to speak to the police anyhow.

The lady never had a chance on her own, might I add. I think she might have hurt her ankle trying to grab her bag back because she was walking kinda funny in her heels.  She’s one of those sorts that’s dressing a bit too flashy for her age and is overly made up with expensive clothing.  Now, express yourself– sure.  But you know, if I was the theif, you’d be damn well I’d chose her.  Her entire body language, the lack of alertness in her eyes, the sorta sense that she had just been violated by the ‘lower classes’, that’s all the kind of ‘living in her own world’ unawareness that makes someone a prime target for things like this.  While the theif is the one who instigated the crime, this lady did nothing to prevent it in the first place.

If I was a 40 year old lady I might see things different of course. And I make no claims as to knowing how she was raised or taught.  I am just commenting on the results– she was almost robbed, and she couldn’t even display a shred of grattitude, regardless of whether or not some of her dishes may have gotten broken (i didn’t stay around to check).

If I were her I’d at least be happy that the punk who just tried to rob me got whacked by a chair. I mean, come on!  How luck are you lady??

(I also kinda hurt my left shoulder a bit, I think I might’ve slightly pulled something during the impact)

I didn’t chase after the guy of course. I mean, what’s the point, he was running away, no sense in endangering myself for a stupid boutique bag, which he’s already dropped.  Even if it’s been revealed i’m pretty handy with a bistro chair, i’m not jackie chan.

well, at the very least, I wasn’t wearing a jacket that I’d normally wear and I was wearing sunglasses and it was one of those rare days that I was wearing a baseball cap. I don’t think that the guy I whacked got a good look at me, no more than I got a good look at him (who was also, coincidentally, wearing sunglasses and a hat) so it’s probably still probably relatively safe to walk around there so long as I don’t wear the same clothes.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post isn’t to tell you what a badass I am. I already know how badass I am when I want to be. (heh)

My point is that, all things considered, people should really get their heads out of the clouds.  There are certain basic things like an awareness of their surroundings or basic physical practice that could save you a lot of grief.  One of my mom’s coworkers was the victim of a grab-and-run once, and simply from the act of a the purse snatching, she had her rotator cuff torn and her ankle sprained because she didn’t see it coming at all.  And yet, another one of my mom’s coworkers DID see the a grab-and-snatcher a moment before, and she broke some nails off in his face. Some helpful passers by intervened in her case and though this is an exceptional happy ending, the perp was beaten to the ground and picked up by authorities minutes later.

It’s all fine for us to get caught up in passions of our intellects.  I myself like to do a lot of writing I guess, I do a fair amount of reading. I enjoy movies, video games, comics, and all that.  But the physical world ill not be denied, no matter how broad our scopes of minds– we need to ground our experiences in reality.  That means having some basic connection with our bodies and the space around us.

The mind may be our wings, and our passions the meat on the bird that flaps those wings, but the body in itself is the fortress for that metaphor. A fortress that exists, perhaps in peace on most days– but you have to remember that it is, nonetheless, there to protect your existance. It is, in fact, in some sense, your existence.  Dream! Of course, Dream!  But don’t forget– it’s all over, like the real world versus the Matrix, if your body takes a hit.

It is hardly bad advice that all of us be more aware of what’s hapening in the physical world.

Preparation for these sorts of events doesn’t mean that you will come out on top all the time. It just increases your chances of getting favorable results.

Like all things in life– it’s seldom that we can get something right on. Usually, most of our efforts are to rig the game so that it’s less possible for us to lose.

… which, in retrospect, as I mentioned, is exactly why that particular lady was targetted. Because the theif was chosing prey that looked easiest. He was rigging the game.

Initiative has a lot to do with it– someone like that has the advantage. Which just goes to say all the more that you need to work consciously on developing a mindset even a level up from that, otherwise, you really have no chance of containing the situation.

Silent Killers

Paul Farmer, director of the American Planning Association, calls it “The Silent Killer […] acute, growing, and deadly—yet for most Americans, unknown”. What is it? In modern society, there are several social goals that people pursue throughout their lives. A few common ones include getting an education, developing a professional career and starting a family. Achieving these goals involves a lot of effort, and poses many obstacles. But aside from the obvious challenges to these types of goals, there are other forces at work which are often overlooked because they are built so deeply into modern society that most do not know they are affecting us, or why. Two of these background issues fall within the jurisdiction of urban planning. They are the affordable housing crisis and urban sprawl. These two phenomenon are terms that the layman may not even recognize unless he has taken an urban studies course—and yet, the two concepts have such a large impact on the quality of life of every citizen.

Let us paint a typical picture of the growing metropolis. With limited space in the central district, demand is high; land prices rise and residents are forced to move where prices are lower, which naturally tends to be in the distant suburbs. A lack of affordable housing in the central commerce district encourages this horizontal development of land, known as urban sprawling. And thus entire metropolises enter into a vicious cycle—as the affordable housing crisis resonates with urban sprawl, the two problems grow and support each other.

Urban sprawl entails the unchecked horizontal expansion of developments across the area surrounding a metropolitan area. Usually the metropolitan area contains the majority of services that people frequent on daily basis, such as education, entertainment and employment. Because such central districts tend to be the focal point of human activity, they are naturally more economically prosperous. Similar enterprises based in the suburbs tend to be less successful, where there is a lower population density to support economic activity .

As a result, because of the high demand, land prices in the central district are not only significantly higher than prices in the suburbs, but they also tend to be rise over time as populations increase. But though finding cheap land in the suburbs sounds like a good solution, it is temporary at best. If the exodus of residents into the suburbs continues, the full weight of consequences of urban sprawl come to bear; the central district lacks a local labor force, it tends to become a commercial or industrial park. Without residential areas, the parks become increasingly difficult to access.

Urban sprawl is characterized by several land use patterns that make it even more difficult to find affordable housing. Because land is relatively cheap, and the process of having a low-density housing unit approved by local authorities is a lot quicker than with larger buildings, developers find it cheaper and quicker to develop low-density housing and catch the wave of residents leaving the central district. In the space that you could have found multi-family housing units, you instead find single-family residences. There are numerous consequences of single-family suburbs. Because the public infrastructures (such as roadways, electricity and waterworks) as well as services (such as access to education) are shared among less people, the cost of living in a single-family unit is relatively higher. Suburbs also tend to be very car dependant, because public transportation is extremely inefficient when used over large surface, low density areas. Also because of the large surface area, it is difficult to establish strong commercial or industrial enterprises without expensive and noisy arterial road access to bring in clients and workers. The effectiveness of public services, such as schools or hospitals, suffer because there isn’t enough immediate population density to make efficient use of their services.

Despite all the disadvantages, low-density zoning on the part of developers is no accident; it is often the result of practices known as exclusionary zoning. Exclusionary zoning is the desire to restrict members of a particular racial, ethnic, social or financial class from occupying a certain zone. Though racial motivations have been in sharp decline since the 60s, the motivations for most exclusionary zoning are still fiscal in nature—which, inadvertently, disfavors the demographic of racial minorities who tend to be poorer. The goal of fiscal zoning is to improve a local jurisdiction’s tax base by attracting occupants whose contributions in taxes exceed their use of public services. Basically, the practice favors occupancy by middle and upper-class residents who pay more taxes than they use up in social services.

While the suburbs in the early 60s may have been the haven for low-income families, gentrification—the practice of redeveloping low-income neighborhoods to be more aesthetically appealing—increases land values. Gentrification is one of the primary exacerbates of the affordable housing crisis because it actively increases the land value of a neighborhood at a rate beyond it’s inhabitants’ ability to match.

The lower income demographic represents in North America the majority of the population. As lower income families are forced further and further away from the central commerce district, it becomes apparent that the housing crisis isn’t just a problem because of space—it becomes a problem because essential social services necessary for citizens to become productive members of society, such as education and employment, are physically too distant. Without education and employment, citizens tend to develop into an increasing burden for social services funding nationwide.

The affordable housing problem can be seen as rooted in two key phenomenons. Firstly, from an economic point of view, the cost of living (which includes transportation, health insurance, childcare, and housing) has increased at a superior rate to personal incomes. Secondly, and most obviously, the actual amount of affordable housing units has not kept up with population growth. In fact, in some areas, not only hasn’t affordable housing been keeping up with population growth, but also due to gentrification and urban sprawl, it has been on active decline.

Solutions to the situation attack housing and urban sprawl from an economic and social perspective. Firstly, it is necessary to aggressively encourage the construction of not just any high-density residential units—but in particular, affordable housing units. Since local municipalities very seldom have the funds to build government owned units, the technique of choice would be incentive zoning, where developers are given bonuses in exchange for particular services or increased density in their developments. Actively encouraging the construction of affordable housing units also means careful choice of zoning ordinances, as well as situation specific locations that would place affordable housing units in accessible range to public services. These practices are considered as inclusionary zoning techniques, where the focus is to specifically favor a particular demographic of potential residents. It is antithesis of the ‘trickle-down’ top-down theory of social evolution; where in trickle-down theory, the upper-class are made richer in hopes that they will invest in the poor, in inclusionary zoning, the goal is to enable the poorer so that they can themselves become more productive members of society.

The other angle to attack the problem is to increase education and public awareness on the subject of high density, affordable housing units. The reason why suburban style single-family dwellings are so popular is not because fiscal considerations—it has, in fact, been established that living in the suburbs, though cheaper perhaps in terms of land, more than compensates in inconvenience and cost in terms of timely transportation and the presence of services. The reason why suburban style single-family dwellings are popular is because they offer a relative amount of exclusivity. Many families feel that their quality of life is heightened because of the prestige and derived from a sense of ownership; living in a high-density apartment building would restrict their ability to have an exclusive backyard and parking garage. Of course, few devout suburban would ever admit that public parks in metropolitan areas are several times larger than their backyards, or that if one lived downtown, one wouldn’t need a car in the first place to get to work or school. This is a problem in terms of social conception. On one level, it is the result of the valuation of individual ownership, as opposed to sharing resources within the framework of a co-op social mentality. On another level, it is the distinction between the individual want of privacy over the want of a sense of community.

In order to increase the citizen’s quality of life, the issues of affordable housing and urban sprawl need to be taken up with more seriousness by government and citizen alike. Aside from pursuing their life goals and dreams, people need to be aware of the background factors that are passive-aggressively shaping their lives with both social and economic restraints; once they can grasp the basic concepts, then sustainable living practices become the logical choice. Of course, on the subject of education, this is where the government, from local to federal, comes in; more effort is needed to establish a healthy framework of education for sustainable growth and community minded development. Otherwise, trends are left to continue, the affordable housing crisis and urban sprawl together have the potential to severely incapacitate even the most prosperous metropolitan area into ruin.

Juggled thoughts

(…I hope I spelled/spelt juggling correctly)



warning spelling butchery ensuies!!!


Things on my mind:

  • I went to play badminton this morning. I’m making pretty good of my descision to try and make more time for things that I enjoy.
    • I’ve started using a different racket as of last saturday. I used to us an NS8k, now I’m using an AT800DE.  The basic difference is that the NS8k is head light, while the AT800DE is head heavy.  That means that the NS8k is a lot quicker to use.  I can pull off some pretty crazy deffensive maneuvers when under attack with the NS8k because it responds like lightning compared to any other racket I’ve ever used.  It offers exceptional control too in the sense that it’s very easy to maneuver. On the other hand, becauase it’s ‘light headed’, it’s relatively more difficult to generate much beef (read: raw moo-mentum hahaha) when it comes to power shots; like smashes, in particular.  So I’ve started using AT800DE and I feel that I’ve gone from playing with a magic wand to using a magic hammer.  They’ve both got their uses, mind you– but right now my entire playing paradigm has been reversed.
    • In part why I’m forcing myself to play more often is because we have a league game this weekend again Hua Xia. If you search old posts, Hua Xia is one of the unofficial arch-nemesi of my club. We MUST win.  As a result, I’ve been trying to get more court time, regardless of the skill level of my opponents, if only so my new racket and I can synch better. I unfortunately feel I’m only using my racket at a quarter effectiveness though, maybe a third at most… too many unforced errors due to the the total change in timing and setup of my swings. And by now, it’s already wednesday, so I’ve got to give my body the thursday and friday to recover so I’ll be at full strength for the weekend league game.
      • My recovery routine now includes not just ice and massage, but stretching, sauna and jaccuzi.  I actually feel the difference.  I’m not superman, sure. This stuff doesn’t HEAL injuries.
        • Actually, the first few times I used the sauna I really, REALLY hated it. I couldn’t breathe in there. But I think that forcing myself to use it has actually, in an odd way, increased my cardiovascular endurance. I mean, it hasn’t increased my cardio per se– but I have noticed that I take a lot less ‘overheat damage’ while I’m playing now because I’m more able to manage my exertion level. I used to get bad cramps from overexertion in badminton– what usually happens is that I overheat from operating at too high an intensity and I get this bad cramp in an area behind my right abdominals.  But through what I’ve called ‘heat training’ I’ve managed to improove the limit on that breakdown– by playing badminton wearing a full attire of sweatpants and hoodie, I purposely make my body operate under warmer temperatures which exponentially go up as I play.  The sauna is the finishing touch. Working under hot conditions forces me to get used to regulating my inefficient energy bursts that result in breakdown.  The sweaters are to improve the efficiency of my movements so that I operate more conisistently within tolerable limits and thread less closely to my limits.  The sauna is just to improove the limit.
    • In part because of jacuzzis and saunas, it becomes necessary to take a shower at the gym all the time.  I never used to use public showers. It’s not so much out of a sense of modesty as it is all those old men who are scrubbing themselves so explicitly.  But well– if I’m going to be sweating that much, I NEED a shower. Not to mention it’s mandatory before usage of the jaccuzzi or sauna.
      • God, some dude in the sauna today had terrible BO. It was I was in an oven cooking with rotten fish.
  • I’m reading a book for english class. It needs to be done by tonight so I can start writing a paper. I’m on about page 40 out of 400. I’ll just have to dectuple my efforts and I’ll be okay.
  • I’ve been giving a good amount of thought with a friend to starting a real, dedicated badminton gym.
  • I think the problem with life is that we have so many great ideas of what we want to do but we inevitably can’t do it all– we have to chose and in so doing, deny some of our dreams.
  • I like sunlight.  I spent a good amount of time in the back eating lot of the university, which has no one nowadays since it’s still a bit cold, just listening to music, having my lunch, and reading with my sunglasses on. The sunlight is strong enough that reading without sunglasses burns my eyes right out.
  • People:
    • Every day, I’m inveitably going to interact with people.  There are generally three ways that a person affects me.
      • Not at all. Which is to say, my day wouldn’t really have been different if I hadn’t crossed paths. Which isn’t bad or good– it just is what it is.
      • In a good way.  Which is to say, a person tells me something that surprises me in a good way, or they themselves do or demonstrate uninentionally that they are good people.  These people raise my faith in the future of humanity.
      • In a bad way. Which is to say, they deduct total points from whatever score i’ve accumulated in terms of ‘optimism’ from the good people i’ve met today.  These people are either extrinsicly destructive (they try to shoot down hopefuls) or intrinsicly destructive (they either shoot down themselves, or they limit themselves). 
        • I’m finding that most people who are destructive, whether intrinsicly or extrinsicly, are usually like that because they have weak self-esteem.  And I don’t say that with the intention of being mean.  It would be so easy for me to use words like ‘cowardice’ right now.  But that’s a loaded word, isn’t it? Cowardice is the bad version of fear.  But isn’t there a good version of fear too? The sort that makes things exciting?
        • Not everyone has the luxury of a mechanism with which to deal with fear.  When we can’t deal with fear, that’s when i think people start developing the bad, false self-image sort of ego that I always say people shouldn’t.  People develop these sorts of egos as a deffense mechanism to deal with fear.  By making up rules for themselves, they can differ fear to their ego– it’s like a multiple personality. Except that deep down, there’s only one real person– the ego, the public image presented for everyone else’s benefit, that’s just there with all it’s values to take the thinking out of situations of fear.  When something uncomfortable comes up– I’d just have to ask, what would my alter ego do? And then do it.  Rules, values, presets, in that sense, are a deffense mechanism because they make all choices easy.
          • Perhaps the scariest thing we encounter in life is the uncertainty that comes with thinking– because it introduces possibilities that we don’t have solutions or guides for.  Because they are new things.
          • On the other hand– the greatest sadness is when people give up on thinking. And I don’t mean… intellectual thought. I mean thinking in the sense of…
            • a person isn’t their values.  A person is their mechanisms.  Think of it more like how the car isn’t the particular engine, the upholstery, or the shell– the car is the concept that says ‘locomotion’ and you can really do it any way you want if you have an open mind.  And if you want, don’t even think car– think motorcycle. Think airplane.
            • This is what i mean by thinking sometimes. I don’t mean calculations, or critical analysis– I mean, the particular way that you think is in itself, that is the person.
            • Thinking and values occur sorta simultaneously. One doesn’t come from the other without coming back grom itself. It goes in feedback cycles.
          • A lot of people are afraid of their own brand of thinking…
            • you can either try and think of some way of seeing it the way everyone else does
            • or you can keep on thinking that way
            • BUT DO NOT pretend to think a certain way when you really don’t.
      • I need to find more positive influences on my life.
      • At the same time… I often feel that I don’t want to leave behind the negative influences in my life.  Call me egotistical– but I want to save them.
        • … on second though, “saving” is such a powerful word isn’t it?
        • Deep down though, I know I can’t save anyone. i can only set up the circumstances for people to make changes for themselves. I can give them statistically increased probabilities of becoming better people, but that’s it.  What choices people make are none of my business. It’s a lot like elections– I’m just selling a particular program which might not be really more right than what anyone else beleives.
  • Provincial elections were a few days ago. I skipped them to play badminton.
    • Would you like to try and convince me why I should have voted? Because I can give you any number of reasons why I chose not to vote.
      • The main argument against non-voters like myself is “if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain about what happens due to the winning party.”  This is totally false logic.  If I voted for PQ and ADP won, I would be abllowed to critisize because I at least declared my values aligning with PQ?  Yet, somehow, if I voted ADP and ADP had won, does that mean that I don’t get to complain, because I declared my agreement with their values?
        • Voting doesn’t mean you agree with the party. It usually means you agree with most of it.
        • Not voting is similarly just like voting for the option that isn’t there.
        • No matter who wins, you have a right to critisize whoever is in charge, whether or not you voted– regardless of who you wanted to win, the person up there isn’t just elected to a throne. That person is getting paid to do a particular job, and they damn well do their best.  As long as I give up freedom in a mutual social contract with fellow society-folk, then the government has an obligation back to me. It doesn’t depend on me voting for them or not voting on them.
      • It’s not exactly that I think that democracy is an illusion.  But whenever marketing is concerned (and democracy really is a lot about marketing) I simply beleive that there isn’t enough straight information in equal quantities going equal opportunarily around to make a descision. I take my choices very seriously. When you voted, did you?  Or did you just vote because of one tidbit of information that you liked, like tax reduction? Or did you vote for someone else because you didn’t like the comments one group made about asians? Or did you vote the way you did because your family or friends said that this was a good idea?  Really, how much thought did you put into your vote?
      • It is not that I’m trying to undermine democracy. And I realize that I sound like I’m ignoring my civic duties.
        • But if you ask me, I’m doing more of a service to my province and my country if I concentrate on being a better person every day. In that sense– yes, a trip to a gym where I will suffer and sweat is a much more efficient investment in the future of this country than voting.
        • … these comments are mostly directed to you people who got on my case about not voting, as if your vote solves the world’s problems.  If you hadn’t noticed, all the parties are going for a better world.
          • … and too tell you the truth, I think a lot of people who make a big deal out of voting do so because they like to differ the responsability of their civic lives to government.   It’s this sort of delusioned hopefulness that you can throw that vote, that little effort, into a top-down wish of everything fixing itself.
          • I’m a bottom-up person.


(from http://www.xckd.com, link courtesy of Zanshin)

Codes of Conduct

I’m generally very wary of using the word “rules” or “principles” because that these things inevitably lead to a number of problems.  Like, people start becoming dogmatic, people stop using their own brains to think of situations with more critical objectivity, yadda yadda.  On one end of the spectrum, you have hardline relativism that says “anything goes” and that it’s just a matter of differing values, so long as you can find a good reasoning for them.  On the other hand, you have harline conservativism, that says “rules rule” and that order is more important than anything else.

I’m not a fan of either extremist camp– call me wishy washy but I’m a fan of grey areas.  However, there are some things close to the “rules rule” side that I think are pretty basic, and in fact, should probably be universally basic for the functioning of a reasonable society.

Favors / Means to an End

  • When you ask for favors, first, you have to do your homework.  That means that when X asks Y for a favor, X should do as much legwork as he can before asking Y to connect the dots.  Whenever X asks for Y to do shitloads of things that X could in part do, this isn’t favor asking– this is abuse.
  • When you are granted a favor, regardless of whether or not it’s a mutual exchange, you pay that person back.  The person doing the favor, X, shouldn’t expect anything back, but the favor receiver, Y, should do something to try to repay the favor.
  • If you are the kind of person who collects favors from people but gives nothing in return, you are an asshole.  Don’t be surprised when people stop wanting to help you out.  They are not selfish for not helping you– a lack of generosity is not selfish.  But, an expectation of generosity is.


  • Just because you have money doesn’t mean that you’re a good person.
    • The beggar’s quarter is worth more than your ten bucks.
    • If you think your favor is a big deal, think again.

Favor symbiosis:

  • People granting favors should expect nothing in return.
  • People receiving favors should pay back favors.
  • This seems like a contradiction, but this is what you call a world bound together by goodwill and not by economics.

Reputations by Association

  • First, there’s good things about reputation and bad things.
  • For the Good Things:
    • Forge ahead!  If you are doing the right thing and even your ‘friends’ disagree with you then keep going.
    • But, have a bit of humility and use your brains. Don’t be so quick to be self-righteous.
  • Your reputation should matter for your sake
    • This doesn’t mean that you go around engaging in throwdowns for the sake of maintaining your rep. By reputation, I mean things like “true honor” not “superficial honor”.
    • It should be a higher value to think of the reputation of other good people who you might affect.
    • If you are too stupid to do things that are in the best interests of your own reputation, you should at least consider your impact on the good people who invest time and trust in you.
  • Basically: What you do affects those who are associated to you.
    • That means that no action you take reflects only yourself.  You aren’t just a single man drowning yourself– you are someone who might be sinking a shipfull of people.
  • Emotional responses to situations:
    • Your ego is your own worst ennemy.
      • Revenge is stupid.  Especially when something between you and one other person sucks in a bunch of people. 
        • YES, even road rage is stupid.
      • If your friends stand by you when you are doing somethign objectively wrong for the pure sake of ego– you are VERY lucky and really owe these people.
        • You are, however, the biggest asshole for expecting them to do wrong on your behalf of your petty ego.
        • You are an even bigger asshole if you are dissapointed if people will abandon you when you are going to do wrong.
    • Many wrongs aren’t objective wrongs at all— it’s just your weak little ego that got bruised.
      • If you can let go of your ego, many (read: MANY) of your problems in life will suddenly be fixable.
  • Pride:
    • There is good pride and bad pride.
      • Good pride is when you are proud of yourself for the good things you do, and when you will not allow yourself to do bad things because you will not stain that pride with bad actions.
      • Bad pride is when you’re thinking with your ego for the sake of superficial self-image.

All that mysteriousness, all that reputation:

  • There’s a place for secrecy, and there’s a place for honesty.
    • Very often, you’re fooling people a lot less than you think.
      • If you ever stop before and action and consider how to act ‘all that’, you’re probably not ‘all that’.
    • If you’re going to make an ass out of yourself, expect that people won’t like you. It’s simple cause and effect.
    • If you’re going to make an ass out of yourself, expect that when people do interact with you it’s because they’re using you for what little use you have, since you’re not good for anything else.

Violence, swearing, anger:

  • Is weakness.  Plain and simple.  Usually, it is from the dissatisfaction of the ego.
  • Honest communication / understanding  is divine.


    • People will sympathize when they damn well please.  You have no right to expect sympathy from anyone.  Either get off your cross while you still can, or finish the job.
      • DO NOT waste my time hoping to get favors out of pity.  In my eyes, your being in a downtime mode is fine– I will listen to your problems to a certain extent.  But you having problems does not merit favors.  Your problems are your problems.  Only you can fix them.
        • You are most likely NOT psychotic. That means you most likely potentially have a great deal of control over your ‘fate’.
            • Fucking emo people!
              • Fucking attention whores!

The Bank Theory:

  • Everything’s like a social bank.  That means, favors, good relations, effort, trust– it all gets deposited into this pool of resources.
    • If you make investments, you may be entitled to returns, but it is a risk.  A risk you should be willing to take.
    • If all you do is make withdrawals, your credit rating goes down.

Bottom Lines:

  • THINK! For gods’ sake’s people, think about your actions. Introspect!  Consider who you are and how you are responsible for yourself! Consider how you can be a better person and stop getting stuck in the stupid ruts of self destruction!
  • The ball is in your court
  • Even if you are not responsible for the actions of your environment and you may get into tight jams, it’s not the responsibility for the situation that matters… it’s your responsibility to consider and do the best possible actions



(end rant)

All Systems are a Go

“It’s time to kick ass and chew bubblegum; and I’m all out of gum.”

That’s right folks. We’re pulling in for final descent. Second round of midterms is in it’s final week and next week, I begin finals. I must say, I’m looking forward to it in an odd way– I don’t think I’ve ever approached imminent conflict with so much confidence before. In my head I’m thinking Klingons, Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan rolled into one big mess of glory and pain.

I leave you with a poem by Raleigh:

What is our life? a play of passion;
Our mirth the music of division;
Our mothers’ wombs the tiring-houses be
Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Heaven the udicious sharp spectator is,
That sits and makes still who doth act amiss;
Our graves that hide us from the searching sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest– that’s no jest.


The Starship Enterprises (all the bunch of them) always had this funny thing going on whenever they were getting into fights. The science officer or whoever would say something like “Shields are down to 50%!” and then the Captain would say something like “Get those warp engines back online!”

And you know, they’re giving orders here and there and there’s only so many people who can possibly fix things on the ship at any given moment, and there’s only so much the ship itself can handle.  But they seem to keep getting into that sort of situation, don’t they?

So the idea is that the ship is gonna get into a few rough scrapes– but with a bit of conscienctiousness, any situation can be managed to some extent.

Last week when I was playing in the legauge game versus YMHA.  League games have a strange mental effect on me– I get all pumped up and psyched to play hard hard hard and when I first step onto the courts against opponents, I usually find that I’m over prepared.  Over-warmed up.  Basically– I’ve overdriven myself, which can be as bad as being unprepared.

Anyway, long story short– in the course of our first set of games at YMHA, my right leg started getting a bit overused from lunging and whatever reason.  I was burning up too much usage at once.

But this isn’t really anything new– one gets into the habit of understanding that when you get out there, things seldom go according to plan.  So you make due.  Started compensating for the lagging right leg by using left-handed footwork.

Course, this has the effect that the left leg tires out too.  Which is kinda funny.

When it came down to me finally playing my last games of the evening, which were mixed games, which means a lot of running for the man in order to protect the girl and end the rallies as soon as possible, my legs were both sorta failing.  I actually fell three times because my legs literally lost power and weren’t able to stop my motion.

But well. When that happens, what does the Captain do?

Captain just shouts and screams and the little workers get to work that’s what!

So for falling down 3 times, I got up three times.  It doesn’t matter if it takes grit teeth or whatever.

… there was a point to this post, but frankly, i’ve gotten too tired of working the idea over in my head. It had something to do with ‘standards’.

Some people basically set their standards too low. When they see other people out there going for what they want, they are thus the first ones that start pointing fingers and shaking their heads saying “that’s so dangerous” or “you’re crazy”.  But they wouldn’t say that if they knew what standards those people had for themselves.

Now, I’m not supporting reckless behavior– but I am saying that it’s easy to be a spectator and comment about what’s really going on in the fields.  It’s another way of life entirely to be there to take take risks which are, very much, worth the possibilities of more.

(End confused random thought)


This is where most of my work gets done, and these are some of the accessories essential to running.

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

… I sure hope whoever said that is right!

Cause my body is in a significant amount of hurt right now.


Part of my day at work, on my first day
working ER during day shift:

“This morning, I woke up – couging
– brush teeth – saliva pink -” I gathered, from Cantonese. I’m
unfortunately not all that great with my Cantonese. And that’s on a
regular day. If you ask me to deal with a situation where I’ll have
to translate medical related terms, that’s even worse, since most of
my cantonese came from the kitchens and around the house. How am I
supposed to know how to say tuberculosis in chinese?

“Ask her if she has an appointment,”
says the nurse. I translate.

“No,” I respond.

“Does she have a doctor here? Has she
been to this hospital before?”

Again, some awkward talk, but the
result is the same. “No,” I reply.

“Ask her why did she come to this
hospital if she could have gone to the Hotel Dieux, which is better

Again, some awkward talk. I don’t
understand any of the reasons the lady gives me, except the last

“She says… she says she’s scared,”
I translate quietly. “That’s all I can understand. She says she’s

The nurse is used to this. In fact, I’m
used to this at this point. Worse than fear itself to most patients
is the effort it takes to admit one is scared. And in some ways, a
hospital doesn’t just exist to cure illnesses– it exists to console

“Tell her to have a seat and make
herself comfortable. It’ll take about fifteen minutes but I’ll be
back,” says the nurse.


Yesterday night, I lost my mixed game
because I didn’t trust my partner enough and I made descisions that
were not mine to make. You see, there’s a way of playing mixed where
the man can sort of ‘lead’ the offensive and deffensive– that means
a lot of power shots, like smashes and clears and all that. With
high velocity shots, the net tends to be played through, but it
doesn’t get attacked very much. If I want to play correctly, then I
can incorporate more pushes and drops so that my girl partner will be
more involved in the plays. But what did I do?

I chose instead to almost ignore the
net and play against the guy instead. It was a tactical error, a bad
strategy. Though it is true that the girl on the opponent team was
strong, perhaps relatively stronger than her male partner, my
strategy was wrong– I shouldn’t have cut my partner out of the
action like that, it was wrong of me to assume she couldn’t handle
the other girl, and it cost us our set.

Hindsight: 20/20 as they say. I’ll
have to make sure not to make that mistake again– regardless of my
partner’s skill level, I have no right to take away her chance to
fight for us. For that set, I let my want of victory cloud my

And how much better was I if I was
hitting smashes at the wrong lines anyhow?


Today was my first day of work for the
ER. I mean, I’ve worked that department before– but it was always
an evening or weekend shift, and things are a lot quieter then.
During the daytime shifts, there’s actually one coordinator assigned
just to that unit (today, it was me). It’s surprisingly a lot more
busy than I thought.

But it’s a nice feeling to have all
this shit whirling around you, and still, with a few careful steps
here and there you can still manage. We were shortstaffed today, so
the ER was being run by one nurse, one doctor and myself instead of
what is normally twice as many. It was, in an odd way, sort of fun.

Vittek once told me, on the subject of
rackets, “I find that when a racket has chips in the paint, it’s
different. It’s got a story behind it, it’s got battle scars.”

The people I work with are very, very
nice people– but you see it every now and then when they do snap.
But that’s not a bad thing– it reminds you that this is how things
go, that these are still human. This is what makes them great– that
they are not invincible, yet they can achieve such levels through
willpower alone.

… it is nothing special for Superman
to dive into a burning building. If you or I do it, that is
something different. It is not that we are ever worthy of anything–
but rather, we must find challenges worthy of our abilities.


Last night despite my losses, I played
some sets pretty well. There was a time though when, during
confrontations at the net, I felt the tension so thick that I could
choke on it. One of my opponents was really trying to score at the
net, and though I was containing it, I couldn’t let him have the idea
in his head that he would be allowed to fight that zone. Why not
lock it off?

So what did I do? I started trying
bother his concentration. There were a few situations where I
countered a netshot of his with a netshot of my own, and I literally
stood up straight and lowered my racket as if I didn’t expect him to
get it. And then, after my shot, I’d just look into his eyes as if
to say “Go ahead. Do whatever you want. But you’re not going to
be able to save it.”

In reality, they were bluffs. There
really is no technical reason to lower your racket while the bird is
still live. There is no reason to not be in a ready stance. There
is no reason to look at your opponent’s eyes instead of the bird.

I don’t know if Vittek, who was
covering our rearcourt, noticed those instances where I seemed to
stop moving, where I declared my superiority at the net.

They were bluffs. They were my
pokerfaces. There is no technique that is totally totally
unrecoverable, I could have been countered, but I thought that the
risk was worth it. During those four shots, I made sure he knew I
was staring at him, and even one time, we made eye contact for a

The trick to breaking someone’s
confidence isn’t just getting him. Because in an exchange of
attacks, everyone takes damage and it’s expected. If you want to
cause mental damage, you have to get him, and you have to MAKE IT
LOOK EASY. Put in the extra effort for the show– that means, burn a
bit more energy, grit your teeth a little more, and finish the job as
efficiently as possible– and make sure he thinks that you can’t be
hurt and that it’s effortless for you to hurt him.

For no less than four netshots, I said:
“Okay, this is my chance.” They were situations where I knew I
had a perfect opportunity and that my skills were enough to get the
job done– all that was needed was a bit of extra effort for bonus
presentation points. And for those four shots, I went for the shot,
tapped it the right way with the tumbler slice, and then just lowered
my racket, stood up casually and stared right into his eyes. “Do
what you want, they said, but you’re not going to save it.”

The first time, it could have been

The second time, he was getting a bit

The third, his attempted counter was
totally out of the court.

The fourth time, he hit it under the

There was no fifth time, because after
that point they didn’t engage me with that type of play at the net.
That type of attack of theirs had been effectively ‘sealed’.

And to be honest, the guy’s net play
was probably as good as mine. It’s just that I took opportunities
where I had the kill, and made them seem bigger than they really were
by opting for less surefire techniques in favor of the possibility of
gambling against their mental toughness.

It paid off in this scenario!

Ha ha ha, suckers.