anotheranon: (busy)
I've not posted in almost a month, so here's the quick and dirty version of what's been up:

  • Health: The "bunion" turned out to be just bursitis, and now I have custom orthotics to keep it from getting worse.

    Fun tip: stick-on velcro in the sole works well for holding orthotics in place.

  • Media: have been sucked into Sleepy Hollow (makes free and loose with the history, but the characters have good chemistry) and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a couple of strong episodes but still finding it's feet).

    Saw Thor 2; thought the world/main characters were better than in the first one plus more Loki and Darcy = yay. Saw Ender's Game; I enjoyed it but never read the book so I didn't have nostalgia/expectations going in (yes, I know. I rationalize because D. loved the book as a kid before we all knew what a 'phobe Orson Scott Card is).

    Watched "Goonies" and "Beetlejuice" for the first times since…high school? [ profile] jlsjlsjls: Beetlejuice may have showcased the first documented pair of swants (scroll down), and Delia's other costumes definitely pioneered Japanese designers.

  • Sewing: bwahaha! Writing has eaten my sewing time.

  • Writing: still consumes me though I did not do NaNoWriMo; had good writing days both alone and with [ profile] dustdaughter.

    Teaching myself Scrivener because I'm rapidly losing track of multiple Word files.

  • Reading: mostly crunchy academic tomes for the book sprinkled with occasional fiction so my brain doesn't explode. See: Hollow City, Ooomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way, Halo Effect.

  • Thanksgiving: we spent with [ profile] kiya and [ profile] lady_masque and friends with tons of food.

    Played Arkham Horror for the first time and am staggered at the complexity of the game play.

    Turned everyone on to Alton Brown's cocoa brownies (which I've linked to before but are so good it's worth doing again).

  • Cats: routine vaccination updates turned into clearing up an aggressive ear infection for Spice; she is deaf now, though we don't know whether this is because of infection or treatment :( Due to the stress of repeated vet visits she didn't eat for a week and we're now plying her with tuna and canned food to bulk her back up.

  • Fencing: competed a couple of weeks ago and am proud I was only defeated 10-6 by a scary B rated vet in my final direct elimination.

    Arrogantly(?) think I stand a chance of getting my D this season if I can keep my head on straight.

  • Holiday: only thing planned so far is D.'s office party which is 1) 1920s themed and 2) in CA. So costume and slightly warmer weather = win.

  • Whisky: hoo boy yeah!

I'm very slowly catching up with y'all. I probably won't comment much but know I AM reading.
anotheranon: (competent)
This weekend was my first event as a "baby vet" (it's the new season), and I did... remarkably well.

In fact, I came in first (!), only my second gold medal and the competition was twice as big (14 women) as the one where I won my other (only 6, back in 2011 when I first got my E) (Tangentially, I think I renewed my E again, but I don't think it counts as I did that earlier in the year already[!?]).

And the blow by blow isn't half as interesting as my reaction to it.

Even after playing with swords for 12(!) years, I still have trouble thinking of myself as an athlete. It just seems the word would better suit someone who has been physically active and competitive since childhood. It still amuses me to be called one, especially when they give you a pass that says just that:

this made me smile )

And then I get out on the strip and start (largely) tearing things up.

I was not stupid. I was patient (again, mostly) enough to figure out my opponent before doing something stupid/useless/energy-wasting and kept to what I'm good at.

I used my long lunge. It may not be as fast or long as a 19-year-old's, but it took a long time to develop so dammit, I pulled that out. My opponent in the final bout was stronger than me and would have defeated me had I not.

I was lucky (?) she had an injury, I did not, so I was more mobile. Yes, I used her weakness, it would have been poor strategy not to.

And even as well as I did I'm still kind of shocked and feel like I ought to weight my win with qualifiers.

X was injured.

Y had been fencing all day yesterday, and was tired.

I'm lucky that Z's and my fencing styles matched up to my advantage.

But maybe I ought to just admit I am better than merely ok at this. Maybe being smart enough to see what's going on, use what I've got and not let my opponents use what they've got is a kind of athleticism.

Maybe I'm actually good.

I'll come back down to earth sooner or later - if I don't, V. will remind me not to get too happy :P

But I think I'll enjoy it for now.

the shiny )
anotheranon: (fencing)
Despite my misgivings, I actually rocked at Nationals. As in, alarmingly so.

getting there, and there )

the competition, now with spectators )

wandering )

All in all a good end to the season and several months of banging my head against the wall :)


Jun. 23rd, 2013 05:34 pm
anotheranon: (exercisegonebad)
I am really trying to get excited about Nationals this year.

I am going to go. I qualified for Div III, dammit, and I'm not going to avoid the challenge.

I'm just frustrated going in as I don't feel ready.

Part of it is that what I've been working on in lessons with V. are parries and flicks that I've not perfected well enough to take effectively into competition. I'm further hindered by tiring out my shoulder doing assisted pull-ups that even practicing the 2-9 parry is painful, and while I need to practice it I don't want to fsck up my shoulder one week away from the biggest competition of the year.

This, and I think I was looking a little too forward to the possibility of fencing vet (and hence, more than one competition) this year. The rules say no, and while I know veteran fencers are crazy smart/experienced, it would be nice to go up against opponents who don't have a youth/speed/reflex advantage right out of the gate, which is what I'll be seeing in Div III.

So I'm going to try to aim for cool-headed instead of excited.
anotheranon: (cool)
Because I found a few gems that couldn't wait for a long link dump:

anotheranon: (busy)
'Cos it was a busy one:

Saturday I made it down to the Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s exhibit. Last day + pretty weather + free admission = it was PACKED, and some of the posters and paraphernalia were situated in narrow hallways that were skin-scrapingly annoying to navigate. Having said this, I'm glad I went: I knew a bit about the DC punk scene but next to nothing about go-go or graffiti. Also got the nice hardcover catalog (natch) that will hopefully cover all of the labels I couldn't read because there were so many people.

Today I did the women's competition in the Cherry Blossom Open and did possibly the best I'd ever done at this always-challenging annual event: won one in pools but due to a lucky mismatch (? maybe I AM that good?) won my first direct elimination bout. I lost my second to an endlessly patient B-rated woman who I have fenced before: this time I lost 15-6 instead of 15-3, so I'm going to call that an accomplishment :) Also got to see [ profile] skill_grl who spectated and shot video for me (thank you for both!)

Health observations: it wasn't hot but the air was close, and my finicky lungs rebelled. I think my inhaler must be empty, as it didn't seem to have any effect. As I get tired I get kind of "punch-drunk": my coordination deteriorates and I tend to laugh to relieve tension - which isn't great when I'm already lacking air. I need to work on stamina but it is going to SUCK.

In other news: gloriously beautiful day! I'm sitting here with the windows open listening to the crickets chirp, and I think this time it will last :)

I've also decided what I'm doing for my birthday: I'm going to get a Thai yoga massage. It's supposed to be a combination of massage and yoga postures that helps heal and prevent injury and I keep saying I'll get some sort of massage to aid the wear and tear so it's time to just do it.


Mar. 21st, 2013 09:49 pm
anotheranon: (illus)
I was in Reno this past weekend(ish - Saturday through Tuesday) for a national fencing competition.

Not noteworthy: not my first and definitely not my best showing, but the first where D. has gone with me. He spent some of his teenage years in Lake Tahoe so he went to see old haunts when I was on the strip and show them to me once I was off.

On the strip: Sunday was the scarier of the two events I was signed up for and I did better than expected: won 1 pool bout, almost won another, and even won my first DE (this is maybe the second time I've done this at the national level). Monday...not so hot, partly because I ran into my old nemesis Absence of Blade repeatedly, partly because by that time not only the dry air but the altitude was getting to me :( I had been warned that being in the mountains could have an impact on my ability to breathe if I wasn't used to it, and how! It not only slowed my movements but my brain as well; I could see attacks coming from a mile off and couldn't get my lazy carcass to do squat against them.

I only thought I'd been in "the mountains" before; this was my first trip to any part of the Rockies and D. has been right all of these years; the Appalachians are but foothills by comparison! It's hard to describe, but the perspective is just grander and more dramatic - as D. showed me his old neighborhood I felt like I was either on a cliff or in a bowl, with no in-between. When we got out of the car to get good photos of Lake Tahoe my vertigo kicked in as I got near the edge of the road because it seemed to my "flatlander" eyes to drop off so dramatically.

Lake Tahoe itself was...well, I didn't expect it to be that big! Like I said, grander scale. The houses were unusual compared to what I am used to as well: a lot more natural wood, no yards but multi-level homes taking valiant advantage of the steep inclines. Kind of more "in tune" with nature, at least on the Nevada side, where laws prevent the cutting of trees to get a better view of Lake Tahoe. We went briefly onto the California side and development was a lot denser and the tree cover thinner by comparison.

So I'm home now, back to colder but blessedly wetter weather, and my nose is happy (or at least happier). I am keeping in mind for future reference that high altitudes destroy my game. Also pondering the new side I've seen of D. I'd never seen anywhere he'd spent his teenage years before and it helps me put him in a broader mental "place", if that makes sense.
anotheranon: (exercise)
Needless to say we didn't go to NYC this weekend, as neither of us had much interest in getting snowed in :P Which was disappointing, as my pro-activeness is on a roll and I don't want to lose my momentum.

So, I decided to go to the local tournament that I would have been going to had I been in town (which I now was).

I wasn't in a great headspace going in. I got lost on the way to the venue, so I didn't have much time to warm up, and my feet had been acting up all the day before. The venue was full of young and spry or older and experienced people and I started to assume I'd go down in flames.


I managed to cut off the downward spiral in my mind and win 4 of 5 pool bouts, the other being against someone young, spry, AND experienced, so I didn't take it too hard.

Then I did 3 direct elimination bouts. Two against club mates with whom it can usually go either way, but I studiously avoided being stupid and won both by large margins. I even got 5 out of 15 in my last DE (semifinals!) against aforementioned young/spry/experienced person.

Upshot is, I tied for 3rd (out of 17) and managed to renew my rating :) And yes, I'm still a lowly E, but I've proved to myself that I can make lightning strike twice, and that felt good after a few weeks of winter doldrums and feeling like I'm spinning my wheels in all endeavors.

I got a medal and more importantly, CHOCOLATE. More competitions should offer this because it's a fabulous incentive :P

I'm still kind of wiped, but less from the fencing itself than from the celebration afterwards - D. got us a dinner of rich Italian food and wine with a tiramisu on top, so I think I'm still having "comedown" plus lingering food coma.
anotheranon: (adventure)
Also this week I:

anotheranon: (busy)
Been meaning to update, just... hadn't. So:

Last weekend [ profile] dustdaughter and I went to Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, an exhibit up in B.more. I mostly went for lots of 16th century portraiture that I'd never seen, but as ever with history that's new to me the larger story was interesting too - how could it be possible that, for example, a Congolese delegation visited Elizabeth I's court, or Ethiopian priests studied in Rome, and I'd never read about it before? Recommended.

Also went through a round of veterinary visits with both cats. Kisia was diagnosed with high blood pressure, which explains why her pupils have been dilated for the past 2 months. We caught it before it could impair her sight and she's on medicine, which she doesn't like but has made a huge difference in her eyes and her friendliness in just a week.

Yesterday I competed at a moderately scary local fencing competition, and against all odds kept my head on and got to do 2 direct elimination bouts! I finished in the middle of the pack, and am pleased that I stayed loose and smart. Next weekend, doG help me, I'm in a regional Very Scary event, in which I'm sure to get slaughtered but I figure it's a good "managing the anxiety" exercise.

The library is coming along. The books are all on shelves, now it's just getting them on the right ones. And D. set our first fire last weekend :)

Sewing was/is on hold as I discovered that silk charmeuse facings just aren't stable enough on their own. I got some Touch o' Gold lightweight fusible interfacing, and will give it a go this week. Hopefully I can still do the rolled hem finish.

Still jumping rope 4 days a week, plus some weight exercises for fencing. I think I may have lost a bit of weight.

And after typing all this I'm suddenly very tired...


Nov. 18th, 2012 04:14 pm
anotheranon: (fencing)
Over the past few weeks I've been learning to flick (to non fencers, this means handling the foil rather like a bullwhip to land a touch indirectly).

Yes, I know every time I l flick, [$deity] kills a classical fencer.

Yes, yes, I know that I myself have said repeatedly that if I wanted to flick I'd use a whip.

But V. has demonstrated to my satisfaction that there is a use for such a thing in modern sport fencing. Specifically, when my opponent has a quick or very protective parry, it's a way to get around it without contorting my arm/body/everything to "go around the corner". It can also be a surprise finish after circular parrying (around and around we go!) as the constant blade motion hides the attack.

It is kind of rough on my forearm and wrist, so I'm being very careful, using a lighter blade than I would usually to practice. V. also suggests as homework making parrying motions while holding a dumbell bar to strengthen it up. I'll try this, with both hands because if I'm gonna look like Popeye I want to at least be symmetrical :P

Lesson: never say never.
anotheranon: (neat)
Starting off with the crunchiest and most worth reading: [ profile] hrj's Sex Between Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, a worthy followup to her Essay on Cross Dressing in the SCA, which I also highly recommend. It is thorough, somber research but given the subject matter it might be NSFW. Writers and RPGers might find these very useful.

A thoughtful article on privilege and losing it, via @Mactavish.

Will rap music change the face of enterprise IT? "RapGenius is a site that lets users upload lyrics. Then it lets other users annotate and explain the meaning of the words for each song.”

Eric Idle, Eddie Izzard, and Billy Connolly sit down for a podcast - no really! Recommended with one caveat - I had never heard of Sophie Winkleman before, and lamentably didn’t learn much about her from this podcast, as it’s illustrative of the unfortunate fact that women speak drastically less when they’re surrounded by dudes.

An old article on the winning mindset via “Being an effective competitor in martial arts (or doing any challenging task for that matter) requires that you develop faith in yourself and in your ability” - no kidding! I think this is one of my main stumbling blocks - no matter how much awesome I can pull out, I still don’t quite believe I can do it again.

"Held", Jane Fradgley, Guy’s Hospital, London, Through March 2013 - exhibit of “strong clothing” (19th century strait jackets). Sobering but fascinating, I’ve never even heard of such things being exhibited before.

How to start a hackerspace - parts 1 and 2 of a total of 7 are already up. [ profile] dustdaughter, might hackerspaces be the “salons” of the 21st century?

Edited 11/15/2012: Fixed links - I won't be using that editor again!
anotheranon: (exercisegonebad)
One out of four practices, I am a good fencer.

Body and "no mind" align, if not in perfect synchronization, then enough that I can see what I'm doing but stay loose enough to keep doing it. On very, very rare occasions I'm so in the "flow" that everything is effortless and time goes away because I'm so in the moment.

The rest of the time is like today: first 20 minutes of lesson I'm able to stay calm and pay attention to the "feel" of what I'm doing, then coach pushes a single new variable to the stack and my conscious mind cuts in. Once the thinking hamster is on it's wheel I have a hell of a time stopping it, with the end result that I'm mentally and physically trying too hard to do something, wearing me out and pissing me off.

"No mind" (or as the other coach calls it, the "inner zombie") is a state I can get to and it does work - I know this from experience (see: one out of four). But I can't find a reliable, repeatable way to get there.

Alternately if I'm TOO relaxed, the part of my brain doing strategy doesn't work, so I can execute something technically well but at the wrong time.

Don't think I'm getting down on myself here, I don't think I'm stupid. But my anxiety does a good job of making me do stupid things.
anotheranon: (exercise)
Storm or not, I did my "homework" from club: stretching for my lunge plus... 100 jumps with a jump rope every day I don't fence.

Until coach recommended this I hadn't jumped rope since...oh....first grade, and with very good reason. I would always trip on the rope and sometimes fall down, leading to giggles from my classmates and yet another reason to hate public school phys ed.

I hate(d?) jump rope, but I also knew that if I didn't do it V. would be able to tell. Besides, he's not steered me wrong yet...

Lo and behold, a quick surf through YouTube reveals that I've been doing it wrong all these years! Evidently you're supposed to keep the rope moving from your wrists, not your elbows! And no one ever thought to tell me this.

I could be charitable and suggest that my PE teachers were so familiar with this relatively trivial exercise that they simply didn't realize that not everyone was, but I strongly suspect it was another example of American public school phys ed* favoring kids who were natural athletes and leaving everyone else humiliated.

So, I *CAN* jump some rope. 10+ at a time without tripping up, and no falling down thus far. I can't say I love it, but at least I don't hate it.

*I add all these qualifiers because I try to realize that my experience may not be representative. Having said this, informal polling among acquaintances suggests humiliating PE class was not an isolated phenomenon.


Jul. 24th, 2012 06:45 pm
anotheranon: (davelister)
I think it was Confucius who said "the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names" or something similar. I agree with this; words have power and having a common vocabulary is important for conveying crucial concepts.

I am having some difficulty finding the language coach wants me to use to discuss strategy. I tend to zoom in on what specific actions to take in a given situation, and completely miss the glaringly obvious. V. wants me to think in 4 broad terms: offense, defense, preparation, and feint. Knowing I work with computers, he even suggested fake coding to better unravel the logic:

cut because I care )

Sunday's lesson was frustrating because of my inflexible inability to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. V. pushed repeatedly that I MUST understand the bigger picture to move up to the next level and implement strategy effectively. He is not wrong, but I'm really struggling to get my head around it.

I'll be working on this more of this on Sunday, and I'll experiment tonight at practice to see if I can think in these broader terms and leave the technical aspects to experience.

This is part of what keeps fencing so endlessly fascinating for me - I think I'll always be trying to see a bit more of the iceberg. That doesn't make it any less maddening!
anotheranon: (busy)
House: Still up to my eyebrows in boxes and scheduling. We have 3 days between closing and moving, so I'm using the time to have the air ducts and fireplaces cleaned - I figure it will be easier without furniture potentially in the way.

We still haven't tackled the unfinished part of the basement. I can't speak for D., but I know I've been avoiding it. I've already gone through the fabric stash twice but dread facing whatever else I've accumulated over the years.

Current events: I'm still stunned about the Colorado theater shooting, and my heart sinks a little more every time I see that the victim count go up. The continuing coverage isn't informative beyond that - developments are slow, yet the demands of the 24 hour news cycle means that the media is filling the time with foolish speculation. I really hope this doesn't get pinned on geek culture or fans; my personal guess (I do it too, yeah, yeah) is that the Holmes chose the theater simply because he knew the premiere of a summer blockbuster would be packed.

Between this and Salon's cruelty on the border story, I am reminded why I don't follow news as closely as I used to. I don't ENJOY being misanthropic, but <rant>What is wrong with these people!? I get that illegal immigrants are breaking the law (need for immigration reform is another rant), but they shouldn't have to die for it. Leaving water in the desert assures that at the least they're alive to be sent back to their countries of origin. And the acts of the border control agents in the article are pointless sadism for...what? Because they can (also saving rant how law enforcement sometimes attracts power mad bullies)?</rant>

Fencing: wearing myself out with tiring "dancing" footwork and trying to get out of the bad habit of attacking out of range. Also, I'm involved in creating a fencing fashion blog (details forthcoming).

Tangential: the complaints about Twitter and Facebook destroying written communication holds true, at least for me. [ profile] dustdaughter has rightly pointed out that with only 140 characters, everyone winds up sounding like Rorschach from "Watchmen", and while typing the comparatively huge tome above I found myself mixing tenses, repeating verbs, and dropping articles left and right. Maybe this is another bad habit to break.


Jul. 2nd, 2012 05:25 pm
anotheranon: (fencing)
I've come to the point in my game that it's as much a mental as physical exercise and the next logical progression is improving my tactics. And I thought lunges were hard...

fencing foo ensues )

Fortunately, due to Nationals there's a lot of gold medal bout footage floating around, so I can not only watch good fencing, I can try to unravel what's going on.

As ever with this sport, I'm trying to see another bit of the iceberg. It's frustrating but certainly never gets dull.
anotheranon: (fencing)

Truism of life: sometimes you have to give up one thing to get another.

I just sent in my withdrawal from Summer Nationals, and canceled my room reservations :/ It's disappointing (for me, for D., and for D.'s mom, who we'd have been seeing) but I'm trying to save every scrap for the down payment. It works out, as home visiting was likely going to eat up extra training time, so I doubt I would have been ready.

I'd be more crushed if there weren't a NAC (and umpteen other competitions) coming up in the fall. This gives me more time to concentrate on my latest ongoing effort to see what my opponents are doing, put a name on it (offense, defense, feint, preparation), and come up with a solution to it.

anotheranon: (Default)
No, not that kind :P

It seems I spent most of the weekend sweating, mostly because I didn't realize how warm it was going to be. I shouldn't complain, as the weather was BEAUTIFUL and I got to go out into it, I just wish I hadn't worn long sleeves!

I visited with my friend G. who I've not seen in a couple of years, though she only lives across town. She's just bought a house in a quiet, historic-y neighborhood that was once considered kind of sketchy, but due to low rents and abundant warehouse space has become something of an artist's enclave.

This weekend was the annual open studio tour so we walked down to a group of galleries near her house and drove out to studios further away. I enjoyed seeing the studios in their cluttered glory more than the somewhat antiseptic galleries because I like seeing the tools and "in progress" work, it makes it so much more tangible for me to know how these pieces came to be.

Many things were noteworthy but my favorite was an artist who works in unbaked clay and earth - the texture of her white-on-white unfinished clay/porcelain tempted me to touch, but I was a good kid and kept my hands to myself :P There's something about textured monochromatics that I keep coming back to again and again.

Sunday was my weekly fencing lesson, but due to the humidity I was a sweaty mess before I even suited up. I didn't drink enough water to compensate so within an hour of my lesson I was so wrung out that I felt like I was going to fall asleep on the strip :( Left 1/2 hour earlier than usual, had an extra cup of coffee to muster the energy to get to the grocery, and took a fitful nap in the afternoon.

I think I need to seriously look into getting the A/C in my car fixed, especially if this summer threatens to be anything like last year's.

trueing up

Mar. 24th, 2012 03:36 pm
anotheranon: (craft)
I finally finished the militaryesque vest, not with a bang, but with a whimper - as in, "Thank [$deity] it's done!" Photos forthcoming.

I'm currently working steadily on D.'s robe. It's my first foray into silk twill, and I'm surprised at how "crawly" it is, given that the weave is dense and the fabric fairly thick (for a silk). The nearest thing to it that I've worked with is good-quality microfiber, but this is softer - a joy to handle :)

Which is good because even though I was careful a number of the pieces are slightly off the cross grain, which makes the hems uneven. I just spent 2 days with a T-square to even out the hems on the pockets alone and I predict the hem is going to adventure :P I'm fortunate that I chose such a loose-fitting garment as my first go with this fabric!

Other: if I'm going to fence div II at Nationals I need to "level up"! To these ends I've started practicing point control with a weighted blade (tape a round dumbell plate to the guard) and plan to do similar with footwork, wearing a weighted backpack. I'm also going to start doing the occasional Wednesday at club, which is more crowded with scarier people.

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