Jul 4 2010

Australia, 2009-11-30

We woke in the morning, returned the car, and checked into the Cube Serviced Apartments early.  They are these funky little bachel0r-style hotel rooms with a small kitchen and bathroom.  Surprisingly, they were about the same price as many of the local hostels.  The downside was there wasn’t really a communal meeting place, but on the upside, we had a great view of the city from the 13th floor, and were pretty much in the center of things:  still within the CBD (Central Business District), but a close walk to the Carlton and Fitzroy districts.

After checkin, we headed back to DeGraves street for breakfast and window shopping thoughout the CBD, dodging tourists, locals wandering the city, and these giant on-sidewalk street sweepers that careened around corners.  Given the time, I highly recommend wanding the lanes and alleys and inside malls — we found some great little stores, restaurants, and outdoor cafes.  There’s these little cafes all around, and they all serve a good flat white, putting us in a near continual state of caffeinated euphoria.  At one point, I found myself wandering around a watch store full of Rolex, Omegas, Tag Hauers, and whatnot, and decided that I wouldn’t offended that the salesman didn’t ask me if I wanted assistance.  Most people don’t shop for a Rolex wearing a Timex.

After a quick homemade lunch of turkey, crackers, cheese, and hummus (which go surprisingly well together), we set off to the north to Lygon St, sort of the Little Italy of Melbourne.  Cafes abounded, and we wandered and shot to photos, ending at Brunettis for some flat whites and a shared pear and cheese crumble cheesecake with raspberry jam.  Holy crap, that was delicious, and everything else in that deceptively large cafe looks absolutely delicious.

Takeaway for the day is that Melbourne is all hip and hipster.  My SF buddies would be quite at home here.

Oh, incidentally, there seems to be an common Australian fetish for El Caminos.  Haven’t figured that one out yet.


Feb 27 2010

Australia, 2009-11-29

When we woke in the morning, we heard guests from another room talking to Wayne, saying that their moving cut out half way through last night.  They agreed that it was probably the storm, and Wayne went to flip a breaker.  I was planning on telling him myself, but considering the net result was that I’d fried a surge suppressor and nothing else was damaged after the power came back on, I figured I’d let them run with their assumption.

Outside Apollo Bay

We breakfasted with the other couple, whose names escape me now so I shall just dub them “The Melbourners”, and Lanaea tried her first taste of Vegemite. The look on her face told me she’d never end up intentionally putting it in her mouth again.  After a quick tally with Wayne, we headed off for our now regular flat whites and hit the road.

Our first intended stop was the Cape Otway Lighthouse.  Unfortunately, it was under construction and we couldn’t climb up it, but the original keeper’s houses and whatnot had been turned into something of a small museum.  Honestly, just mildly interesting in terms of a destination; the true delights — for us non-Australians — was the prevalence of wild koalas hanging about.  When we first heard them roar, I thought it was a wild boar or something; I had no idea such a deep and thrumming bass roar could emanate from such a small critter.  At this point, I felt truly like a tourist.

Nae and a Koala

After a bit of wandering and goofing about, we ran into the Melbourner Couple on our way out.  We’d eventually run into them for the rest of the morning, playing leapfrog up the coast to the Twelve Apostles.

WeaklingCape Otway LighthouseNae
We continued up the coast, stopping periodically for snaps, catching some air, and spotting contingents of the Coffin Chasers, until we arrived at the Twelve Apostles.  It really is some breathtaking scenery, particularly with the recent rains provide a heavily textured backdrop of deep navy blue and dense white clouds.

Through some series of events which are not entirely clear, there’s not necessarily twelve apostles.  First there were Gog and Magog, and later the 12 pigs, or some words that meant “pig”, and eventually, for tourism reasons, it was decided “apostles” sounded better than “pig.”  And, there’s not twelve — they are continually eroding, so when one falls, they have to extend their count to include the next earthen tower up the coast.  So, don’t get caught up in the name.  Go for the sight.

Somewhere Along the Coast

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

There’s only so long you can jostle among the continually arriving and departing throngs of bus-borne tourists.

The next stop on the list was Port Campbell, for grub and another flat white.  It’s a sleepy little town, perfect if you have nothing on your agenda aside from eating at some slightly overpriced mediocre restaurants.  (For some reason, it’s quite rare to pay at the table in Australia.  You almost always pay at the register.)  There might be more to Port Campbell, be we didn’t wait to find out, and decided to strike off inland, toward unknown destinations via an undecided route.

It could’ve been the recent rains, but that portion of inland Australia was positively beautiful.  Not 12 Apostles beautiful, but still quite striking.  After an hour or so of lush greenery on small rolling hills, the land flattened in agricultural fields.  It seemed an entirely different country, like falling out of the rockies into the great central American plains (although without dropping 10,000 feet in the process).

Inland Victoria

By far one of the most striking experiences of inland Victoria are the highways.  Normally, you’re speeding along at a solid 125kph or so.  Occasionally, the road drops down to one lane — not one lane in each direction, but one lane total.  The first time this happened, I pulled half the car off onto the soft shoulder and dropped my speed precipitously so cars coming the other direction would have some road to work with.

The other car didn’t slow.

Eventually, I got used to sliding halfway off the road at 125kph, zooming past other cars doing the same, throwing roster tails of rock and sand as the left side of our rental car kicked around on the shoulder.

Once we hit the town of Ballarat, we decided to find a place to stay for the night.  We tried a Lonely Planet recommendation — George’s Hotel — which I would heartily recommend against.  First we had to wander the casino integrated into the ground floor just to find an employee.  They told us we had to go next door to another hotel; they had out-sourced their booking desk.  The girl at the Quality Inn next door was slow as can be with every thing she did, and when she did do it, did it wrong.  First, she tried running Lanaea’s card multiple times, never succeeding in getting an authorization.  Eventually, we had to yell at her to stop so it wouldn’t get disabled for fraud.  After putting the room on my card, she magnetized our keys cards after unsuccessful attempts and calls with supervisors.  It honestly took about 45 minutes or so.

She directed us to a parking garage so tight it took around 20 three point turns to get the car in, and after hiking through the back alleys and kitchen to the actual hotel lobby, we trundled upstairs only to find that our hotel room was outside of the protective smoke-doors at the end of the hall, and the place reeked.  Neither of our keys cards worked.  We attempted to exit the place via a different hallway, although through the same style glass door we’d entered, after which the door locked behind us.  After a brief exploration, we realized all the doors in this hallway were locked.  From the outside.  Lanaea banged on a few doors until we an employee in the casino heard us and let us out.

We headed directly back to the front desk to cancel our reservation, and decided on heading back the last hundred kilometers to Melbourne.  We arrived back at the Melbourne Central YHA, which turned out to have one room available that they’d been turning down to those that called in and were saving for “emergency” walk-ins.  We fit the bill, and we relieved.

The rest of the night was spent relaxing in Bertha Brown’s, the bar adjunct to the hostel on the first floor.  The beer was good and relatively cheap, and the food delicious.  After chatting with the bartender for a bit, he came over, introduced himself as Dan, the owner, and hung out at our booth, comping us beers and telling us everything he could about Melbourne.  He actually took the time to go through an entire “bar guide” of all the CBD bars and give us the local’s impression of each.  Seriously, this guy was way cool, and made my day after the debacle in Ballarat.

His summary of Melbourne?  “Sydney’s like the smoking hot girl, but a bitch. Melbourne’s like the beautiful, classy girl with personality.”  And of places to go:  “Melbourne’s all about the lanes. The best and the worst are hidden there.”

After a few more days of Melbourne, I’d heartily agree.


Feb 23 2010

Training Log

  • Conditioning (30m)
    • warmup, stretches, jumping jacks, prisoner squats, pushups
    • 3 cycles:  lunge/lunge/8 count bodybuilder, max out inverse row (fore and reverse grips), 20 each crunch/reverse crunch/oblique crunch each side, 30 lb 100m overhead weight run
    • table runs
  • Jujutsu variations in Shorinjin dances (30m)
  • Remainder (90m)
    • Scheme 1-8 review
    • Constrained juwaza (cooperative drills):
      • Unspecified right-side linear attacks, openings from Schemes 1-8
      • Unspecified right-side linear attacks, complete schemes
      • Unspecified right-side linear attacks, end the threat immediately
      • Repeat with left, right, or double-sided linear attacks (linear punches, kicks, and grabs)
    • Scheme 9, 10 review
    • Repeat constrained juwaza with Scheme 9 and 10 openings

Feb 18 2010

Training Log

Some technical problems with the blog lately … anyway:

Conditioning (45 minutes):

  • Warmup, stretching, jumping jacks, 1 lap jog, air squats
  • 3×25 meters:
    • bear crawls + jog
    • crab walks + jog
    • spider crawls + jog
  • 3 cycles:
    • 20 crunches, 20 reverse crunches, 20 oblique crunches each side
    • single-finger weight carries, 50m, each finger, followed by full hand
    • 1 lap jog
    • max out pull-ups, chin-ups
  • 25 meter sprawl to knee up
  • 25 meter 8 count bodybuilder, lunge, lunge
  • 25 meter slide/curl/press

Training (90 minutes):

  • Daruma mechanics, applications, and refinement
  • Fudo mechanics, applications, and refinement

Feb 11 2010

Training Log

  • Kick sequence
  • Drill and detail on Schemes 1-8

Feb 9 2010

Training Log

Brief entry today, time is short

  • 30 minutes conditioning
  • 30 minutes Daruma variations
  • 60 minutes teaching (Daruma variations)
  • 30 minutes Q&A (Shorinjin and Liang Yi Chuan)

Feb 4 2010

Training Log

  • Assisted Lance with UCLA class (120 minutes)
    • Forward rolls, backward rolls, brakefalls, side-to-side slaps
    • Suwari waza aiki:  kokyu-ho, ten-chi, the weave, kotegaeishi
    • Schemes 1-3
  • Conditioning (60 minutes)
    • standard exercises, not much variation
  • Teaching (90 minutes)
    • Ukemi bunkai
      • Ankle/calf crush from brakefall position
      • Lateral roll from there into knee hyperextension in kageshi
    • Guillotine escapes
      • Angle, groin strike, throw
      • Angle, groin strike, knee break with hooked arm
      • Angle, groin strike, elbow to femoral with step under to “riding the wild boar”

Feb 3 2010

Training Log

Assisted Lance with UCLA Self Defense seminar.


Feb 2 2010

Training Log

Conditioning (60 minutes)

  • Warm-up stretches
  • 10 cycles:  tables runs to box jumps
  • 3 cycles:  pull-ups, chin-ups, crunches, reverse crunches, oblique crunches, air squats, 8-count bodybuilders
  • Slide/curl/press, knuckle stands, weighted runs, two-foot alligators, wind sprints, one leg alternating curls
  • Overhead carry runs, claw carries, yes/no/maybe’s, finger carries, one leg alternating reverse curls
  • 5 warm-down laps

Training (90 minutes)

  • Breakdown of second sequence of Bushi
    • Standard evolution:  slow form, flow, speed, power, speed and power, slow form
    • Variations:
      • Stepping back into a horse while inserting
      • Add neck shuto, optional ear grab
      • Add neck shuto, left hand shoulder hook, right hand peel off to neck break
      • Inserting under arm, elbow to sternum, rotate to unbalance, knee to face or leg
      • Inserting under arm, elbow to sternum, rotate to unbalance, hook head between knees to neck and arm break

Recent Readings/Re-readings:

  • Martial Arts Instruction: Applying Educational Theory and Communication Techniques In the Dojo, Kane, Lawrence

Jan 31 2010

Australia, 2009-11-28

It was probably a good thing we crashed so early the night before — we’d only planned a short nap, but it ended up taking us through the whole night.  We needed it.  It was the first time we’d adapted, and caught up, to a somewhat normal sleep schedule.

Degraves St.

The hostel recommended breakfast at Degraves St., which conveniently enough was halfway between the hostel and our car rental.  It’s right near the Flinders St. Station as well, and reminds me of the small cafe-lined European streets that movies are so fond of shooting.  It really was a charming little area; breakfast was delicious, and for the first time, not of obscenely large portions.  And to top it off, there was a kick-ass little jazz-punk band playing in an alcove at the end of the street, complete with upright bass.

Flinders St. Station

We wandered the Melbourne CBD until we found our the rental agency, which conveniently enough was right across the street from the hotel we planned on staying at after we returned.  I was a little hesitant to drive though the business district on the right side of the road and the wrong side of the car — and not because I didn’t trust my driving skills.  Melbourne has these bizarre right hand turns rules in the CBD:  to turn right, you pull into the intersection, on the far left hand side, then when all the cars and trams have cleared, you cut across every lane of traffic going both direction, and turn right.  Makes no sense to me.  As it turns out, this would be the least of my problems.

I kept turning on the blinkers instead of the windshield wipers, and vice versa.

Right Side Steering

After we got on the freeway, the frequency of inappropriate windshield wipings decreased, and we found ourselves headed down to Torquay.  We also passed hundred-strong motorcycle gang at a gas station, and didn’t yet realize we’d be playing leapfrog with portions of their group all weekend.

At the end of Torquay is Point Danger, our first view of the ocean on our Great Ocean Drive journey.  It’s quite beautiful, and the clouds rolling in weren’t yet threatening and provided a wonderful texture to the already beautiful scenery.

Point DangerPoint Danger

Me?Lanaea

Point DangerPoint Danger

On the way out, we hit up a restaurant called “The Nocturnal Donkey,” if only for the name — which we’d also end up recognizing, in the future, that Australian have a fondness for restaurants name “The Odd-Ajective Animal,” like “The Exploding Frog” or ‘The Effevescent Duck.”

As we ate, the clouds turned on us, and it began to pour quite heavily.  Since we were headed up the road to Bell’s Beach, and it’s associate with the stormy antics of Point Break (which was not filmed on-site, however), it seemed appropriate.  Bell’s beach, like just about all of the Great Ocean Drive, is stunning.  We wandered the shore for and hour or so, although the rain made it a bit difficult for me to shoot.

Bell's Beach

Lanaea

Most of the rest of the day was spent on the road, stopping periodically to take in the salt air, rainstorms, moments of sunshine, and snap photos.  Oh, and we learned that if there are cars stopped on the side of the road, with the occupants gazing upward, that someone has spotted a koala.  We emulated this behavior frequently, although not always when koalas were around.

Great Ocean DriveGreat Ocean Drive

Great Ocean DriveGreat Ocean Drive

Great Ocean DriveGreat Ocean Drive

We rolled into Apollo Bay near sunset and went searching for a place to crash.  Unfortunately, it was the weekend, and it appeared that Apollo Bay was somewhat of a mid-to-upper class getaway for Melbourners.  After an hour of driving around, checking off each entry in the Lonely Planet guide, we found one available room at Nelson’s Perch B&B.  The owner, Wayne, was spectacularly friendly.  The rooms was actually less than the guidebook stated, even on a high-demand weekend.  He informed us that the town shuts down early, so he handed us a set of keys, told us to drop our bags, get dinner, and we’d take care of the charge in the morning.  After a quick inspection of the rooom — which had a kind size bed, jacuzzi in the bathroom, private patio, and all the trimmings, we thanked him sped out splurge on a dinner.

We settled on La Bimba, a seafood restaurant we’d spotted earlier, since Apollo Bay was, and perhaps still is, a fishing village.  The food and wine were truly fantastic; we had the seafood paella for two.  I highly recommend it, even though it’s not inexpensive.

Sated, we headed back to Nelson’s Perch, where the wind and rain rose to torrential levels.  As Lanaea prepped for bed, I took the opportunity to back up the days photos to my netbook and charge my camera batteries.  Prior to the trip, I’d constructed something of a voltron doppleganger, where battery charges, outlet adapters, and all things electronic hook together with a surge supressor.

The one thing hadn’t yet used, was the surge supressor, which I’d brought more for it’s ability to turn one outlet into three, so I didn’t have to buy a bunch of outlet adapter.  Of course, this was also the thing I forgot to check for electrical characteristics, so as soon as I plugged it in, pow, the supressor blew it’s fuse and dropped the entire 220V circuit.  Doh.

Half the devices in the room still worked, so I figured it each room had a circuit or two, and I could let Wayne know what happened in the morning.