Monday, November 26, 2007

Brews China Trip In Pictures

For those of you wanting more and more photos of Brew's visit to China (like myself) but are too lazy to visit his website ( ... very easy, use your Favorites, and commenting is easy, nothing to register to or for) go here for some awesome pics.

And for cryin' out loud, give brew a shout once in a while. Email sucks, blogs are in!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It Is A Small World After All

Me and some friends took a weekend trip to the small city of Ningbo (population 5 million) this weekend. The reason for the trip gets a little complicated but it is worth the telling.

My wife and I have a friend, Pam, who works at the same school as my wife. Pam has an Australian friend named Lucinda who is also in Shanghai but works for another school and lives more in the central part of the city (we're way out on the outskirts of Shanghai.) A few months ago Lucinda visited the US and on her flight back to China she sat with a young Guatemalan man named Gus.

Gus lives in Ningbo and he is the reason we all went (turns out Lucinda wasn't really interested in romance there, but wanted to see him and figured bringing a half dozen of her friends would ensure he got the point.)

When we arrive in Ningbo we find that Gus has also invited a friend along who is actually from a little city very near Shanghai. I get to talking to Gus and it turns out he has lived in Arkansas for the last many years. Searcy Arkansas. And he went to Harding University.

I get a little excited at this news and mention that I have friends who went to Harding, and almost went myself.

At this point we're both a little 'no way,' and so Gus yells at his friend who also went to Harding. We start going through the whole 'do you know...?' thing but as they are many years younger than me there wasn't any overlap in who we knew at Harding.

Then we start talking about me and I say that I'm in China because of my sister and - holy crap - both boys know my sister and her husband! Actually Gus's friend lives in the same building, the same freaking floor, as my brother-in-laws parents.

So to recap my friend's Australian friend went to America and on her plane ride back to China she meets a Guatemalan. Just for friend the Australian and Guatemalan decide to meet up in a city about four hours from Shanghai. The Australian feels awkward and invites her friend who invites me. The Guatemalan feels awkward and invites his friend. Both the Guatemalan and his friend know my sister and one of them lives very close to my brother-in-laws parents.

Seriously, how whacked is that?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Headphones of steel

I posted this on my techtips site here:

but thought you guys might get a kick out of it... i know how to tear up some headphones.

Last Christmas, I bought my wife a set of headphones for her iPod. I bought her a pair of Fashion Headphones (Model MDR-J20LIV2) from the Sony store.

If you your your child has an iPod, you know the standard headphones they include are nothing short of worthless. And besides that, they rarely stay in your ear, particularly if you are jogging with them on. These Sony headphones I bought have a loop that goes around the ear, thus enabling her to jog with them.

However, we learned that my wife has odd-shaped ears, and these headphones simply would not stay on her ears. Long story short, the headphones became mine. Which is good because when we had our baby, about the only way I could get a wink of sleep was to upload songs to my PDA cell phone and listen to the music. Naturally, I would fall asleep with these headphones on and I Would wake up with them twisted and mangled beneath me or around my head and neck.

I have posted a photo of these mangles headphones that I still use almost every night because they still sound and work as well as they did when they were brand new.

So if an iPod is on the Christmas list of someone in your family, I recommend trashing the standard iPod headphones and adding some Fashion Headphones (Model MDR-J20LIV2) from the Sony store as a stocking stuffer. They take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’!

Before (new)

After (And still working)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Beyonce In Concert

I saw the pop diva in concert the other night. If you'd like to read a review, shimy on over to the Midnight Cafe.

Having a fight

Wrestling and goofing off fighting has been a long standing tradition in my family and with mostly boy cousins there’s never been too much of a shortage of willing participants.

Also growing up with my father being a 5th degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu karate there were lots of instances when dad would show my brother and I how to throw a punch, apply an arm lock or why one would twist their hips as a kick flew towards a knee.

Around last March I seized a few things around my life and decided it was time to start doing something for me. A few months earlier my uncle who is also a 5th degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu opened up a ministry based dojo between my work and home. Now at least once a week if not twice I study this karate.

I love it. Like a fish to water this style of fighting was very natural to me, perhaps it’s because for years I watched my dad run his katas (a routine of defensive and offensive movements) before bed. I don’t know why it all seemed to work but it did and does.

Thursdays is usually considered our fun night, that means it’s sparing time. I’m three belts into my training and going as fast as I can to advance but on Thursdays I get to see where my training is taking me.

So it lines up like this the black belts run us through a few warm ups to get loose, we might run a few katas, we have a little devo type thing and then we’re told to “pad up”. We get hand and foot pad put in out mouth guard (you show up wearing a cup and you do need it) and then for about five to eight minutes at a time we have at it. The class cycles through all skill levels lining up black belts against white belts. The black belts know what they are doing so unless you tell them you want to step things up a bit they are pretty reserved.

A few times I’ve lined up against across from the higher belts and we’ve opened up on each other. Man, its fun! I’ve gotten whopped and left class with knots atop my head and bruises across my body but pitting myself against someone else is wonderful. It’s challenging mentally and physically and it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to get completely exhausted.

It’s sort of hard to explain the hows and why’s it feels good to get hit in the face. What’s easier to explain is that it feels great to learn how to defend yourself from getting hit in the face the next time. If you can move past thinking about technique you understand what you can do to defend yourself and your family at any time.

No I don’t live in an area where there are roving gangs of marauders but if a “swollen’ man” were to come up to me now I could handle the situation with much more confidence.

Last week I was grappling with one of the black belts and made hip “tap out” or submit. I had him on his back in a choke and could have made him black out. I felt great and we went another round, after a good five minute fight he submitted me with a leg lock which could have twisted off my ankle.

At any rate this is how I’ve been spending at least one night a week for the past several weeks, hopefully I’m going to get back to two nights a week every now and again.

The time warp of fatherhood

The other night, I shook hands with a man who agreed to buy my little black truck from me for his daughter who is in college. When I envisioned this daughter, going only on the description of "in college" I imagined a girl looking between 24 and 29. She looked like she was fresh out of high school. Perceptions have changed.

Along with that, I have parted with my beloved truck. I have sold 4 or 5 cars in my day, and I was sad to see all of them go (Except the Corvette, I wish to never set foot in another one as long as I live). But selling the truck was especially sad for me. I hadn't done any modifications other than dark limo tint. I just kept it clean. Some of my favorite memories of this truck are me grilling in the driveway, with the tailgate down acting as a sort of "workstation" for my grilling masterpiece. Riding down the road to the nearest pond or river with a boat sticking WAY out the back of the bed. Going over a curb to get around someone who doesn't realize they are sitting dead still in an acceleration lane. And my all time favorite memory, though it was short lived, was me and Sip going to a pond in Luverne. It was down, what appeared to be at the time, a very steep embankment. With a boat in the back, she made it down with no problem, and back up with even less of a problem.

Part of me, it seems, was sold for $7,200.

Later I found myself searching the Internet for a good deal on a minivan. Honestly, I have always wanted a minivan, even before even being married. I loved the idea of the extra room on a long trip. But now, it isn't so much the "make and model" that has hit me in the face, but the social perception of a minivan that has come over me. Of course, this is all in my mind. The minivan no longer looks cool or feels cool to me... now that I am a father, it kind of just feels... dad-ish.

I LOVE being a dad. My son is the coolest. I have Z E R O regrets. But before the child came, the "college days" seemed like only a few years ago. Living in Monticello apartments seems like only months ago. And I still would wake up each day living off the high of graduating college and the fact that I had nothing to study for and no homework!

There is SOMETHING about having a child opens your eyes (Rather, slaps you in the face) to the fact that "You ain't young anymore!" I no longer look over to the "college section" at church thinking "Yeah, I am just a few years older than them, they probably look at me as one of them .". Trust me, the don't. I am seeing kids in college now that I knew when they were just entering the 2nd grade.

I heard a song on the radio the other morning from back in 1997 or 1998. About my junior or senior year in college. It was by Paolo Santos, "Sonny came home." Not the best song on earth, but it took me back to living in the apartments on campus. Being 22. I could have heard that song 4 months ago and still felt like it was kinda new. Today I heard it and realized it was very old. 10 years old. Heck, when I heard it the first time, I may have been goofing off with Stubbs, arguing with Brew about some meaningless topic, trying to get Mullins to email us, or riding in Sips Blazer. Ages ago.

This made perfect sense in my head, but writing it out has become very hard to explain.. I guess what I am saying is before my son was born, the idea of getting together will Mullins to go get some photographs of the alligators in the pond on the golf course in my neighborhood seemed do-able, almost like it was just a phone-call and a weekend away! The idea of all of us guys dressing up in black, and hiding on the grass air strip in my neighborhood so I can finally prove that there is a drug lord living up there seemed like something that only needed me to plan it and invite yall over! The thought that on any given Saturday, it would make perfect sense to drive down to Ryan F's. place in Florida just to watch a few football games, eat chips and order a pizza. Now, it seems like just an imagination I can play with to go to sleep at night.

I even thought about my last trip to Disney World with the Sips. For the first time in my life, I was at Disney World ( I had been 4 times before) WITHOUT ADULTS (Little did I realize I was an adult) but I felt free! I didn't have to get to the bus at a certain time, I didn't have to follow someone else around, I WAS IN CHARGE! Next time I go, I will be the adult. I will be a "rule setter" (Though my son will only be 7 months), and, I will be there with my parents... "Adults". So I guess that one trip to Disney world was really my last feeling of freedom, depending on your definition of freedom.

Of course, fatherhood trumps all of this... but that doesn't mean it isn't just a wee-bit sad. But I don't mind being a slave to the son. I heard a comedian describe parenthood in this way: "Having kids is like being in prison... but you REALLY love the warden."

I guess this is goodbye to the dreams of feeling young again. But hello to living the dreams of youth through the eyes of my son!

I sat over my son's crib one night as he drifted off to sleep. I thought about how sinless he was. How he is the closest, touchable human to Jesus Christ right now. Then I started to think about how much he looks like me and that made me think that I had been warped back in time. My son was actually me. And God had let me go back in time to where i was 5 months old... to make sure I don't make the mistakes I made in the past. It is kind of like, my slate is clean, my life has started over, and I can make things good and better by preventing myself (my son) from making my same mistakes. Makes me wish I could keep him sinless forever.... but, impossible.

Hard to explain, but would make a pretty good sci-fi book.