Australia, 2009-12-01

2010 July 6
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by barclay

We awoke in the morning intending to check out the Queen Victoria Market, of which we’ve heard so much.  Downtown Melbourne is very walkable, in spite of the free trolleys that start a little too late and end a little too early.  When we arrived, some booths were still setting up, but it was almost in full swing.  I was initially disappointed — it’s essentially a big swap meet, although if it’s the largest it’s only slightly bigger than Kobe’s Swap Meet in San Diego (albeit covered), and contained much of the same or similar items if you substitute “Australia” for “San Diego” on the various t-shirts and trinkets.  I picked up some coasters as memorabilia, while Lanaea browsed for some gifts for those back home.  We did meet one interesting local, a man selling authentic (I have no way to know, although there was a grizzled old aborigine hunched down hard at work on items soon to be on sale), who also spoke a bit of his walkabout experiences.  Wether patter for the tourists who are looking for a boomerang or not, I can’t say, but he was certainly pleasant and provided a break in the monotony of made-in-china handbags and fridge magnets.

Olives!

Sausage!

Everything changes when we hit the food area.  It was like the largest farmers’ market I’ve ever seen; you could get just about anything.  The fish men were out every ten feet, pitching the quality and value of their edibles with loud, practiced voices, as if working a carnival crowd.  It was far more interesting to browse here than outside.

Meat!

Shrimp!The sight of all the delicious food got our stomachs grumbling, so we retired outside of sandwiches with the pigeons, then set off to the CBD to see if we could find a reasonably priced opal for Lanaea.  Unfortunately, we discovered we had impeccable taste in opals, and the ones that caught our eyes, even if quite small, were frequently had three or four zeroes on their price tags.

The afternoon called for chores, and it turns out that finding grocery stores and laundromats can be a bit more difficult that we anticipated.  There just don’t seem to be that many of them around, at least in downtown.  The only reason I mention it was because of the drunk old man who wandered into the minuscule laundromat we’d managed to find, sloshing around whisky and spilling it on the floors and some other people’s clean clothes.  Apparently, I looked to be a friendly chap in desperate need of advice, and he latched on to me, alternating between mumbling and shouting barely comprehensible phrases.  At one point, he’s staring directly in my face, stating and re-stating that “you must look them in the eyes and don’t answer, it’s the only way!”  I though this a nice semantic trick to play on someone while attempting to invade their personal space, but felt he couldn’t legitimately get angry with him if I did just that (and more stable legal ground, if we tried something, since we was starting to get a bit close for comfort), so I just stared him directly in the eyes and gave him the hardest look I had. He paused, asked for money, but when I said nothing, he smiled, offered me some whisky which I wordlessly declined, then turned and went stumbling out the door.

Immediately after he left, local just finishing his drying cycle asked me “Do you know him?”  At which point I became a little concerned with the quality of my personal appearance.  A glance in the mirror told me there’s no way it looked like we hung in the same social circles, so this comment actually confused me more than the drunkard’s ramblings.

Carlton Gardens

Three days worth of clean laundry in hand, we hit up some bad chinese for dinner (avoid “City BBQ in Melbourne”!) before washing it down with some gelato in the park and prepping for the Brunswick Street pub crawl we’d planned with Natalie and Jordan.  Brunswick St cuts through the heart of Fitzroy, a hip enclave just outside the CBD.  Plenty of bars, cheap restaurants, cafes, art galleries, independent fashion designers, etc.  At night, most of these weren’t open, but the bars were in full swing.  We started at a lively beer hall (featuring free commuter bikes to ride around the various bars) for some good local beer, hit the Black Pearl for some ridiculously expensive and elaborate mixed concoctions (although it had great decor and atmosphere and I once again found an awesome local belgian-style brew), and then to the communist themed Bar Open, where it appeared some sort of film was being played upstairs.  After a beer or two more, and pictures taken in front of the various murals featuring communist leaders adorning the walls, we hiked back to the CBD for a final brew at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow before heading home.  (Incidentally, for those playing along at home, most “hotels” appear to not actually be hotels, but “bars.”  Forewarned is forearmed.)   All in all, much more “crawl” than “pub”, which may very well be my speed these days, and a nice last night with Nat and Jordan before we meet up with them in New Zealand.

Melbourne CBD at Night

Australia, 2009-11-30

2010 July 4
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by barclay

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.

Australia, 2009-11-29

2010 February 27
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by barclay

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.

Training Log

2010 February 23
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by barclay
  • 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

Training Log

2010 February 18
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by barclay

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

Training Log

2010 February 11
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by barclay
  • Kick sequence
  • Drill and detail on Schemes 1-8

Training Log

2010 February 9
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by barclay

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)

Training Log

2010 February 4
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by barclay
  • 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”

Training Log

2010 February 3
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by barclay

Assisted Lance with UCLA Self Defense seminar.

Training Log

2010 February 2
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by barclay

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