That White V4

I haven’t been writing much about climbing. The last couple months have mostly been morning bouldering sessions. I’ve been climbing everything between V0 and V3, plus a smattering of V4s. Once I decide to climb something, I generally work on it until I solve it. Most things don’t take more than a couple sessions to solve.

Except for this one white V4. They put it up at the beginning of October, and I must have climbed this thing 20 times over 6 weeks before finally solving it. I’d try and get stuck, try and get stuck again, go home, think about alternatives, try and get stuck, repeat.

I went home and thought some more. The thing I was stuck on were a pair of near-vertical holds toward the top. They’re shaped and angled such that there’s nothing to hook or hang your fingers on. The hold is all about hand strength. (At least it is to me based on my current skill.)

Fortuitously, I destroyed my hands at taiko a couple weeks ago. I wondered if some liquid chalk would provide some blister-free grip, so I finally sprung for a tube of the stuff. The chalk arrived, did exactly the opposite of what I wanted for taiko, but now I finally had some long lasting crazy dry grip for the holds I kept sweaty hands sliding off.

A fresh application of liquid chalk, plus a dusting of plain old Gorilla Grip chalk was all I needed to trust that I could stick well enough to complete the moves:

I cheated a little in this video: My left knee actually bumps against the long black hold when I rock to the left. I adjusted after watching this, straightening my knee a little more (I think) and rocking a little less to the left to finish the problem cleanly.

Upon studying the video, I decided to write this post for my future self. This problem actually required a lot of skills I’ve learned in the past year. I wanted to write them down, then come back a few years from now to see much more I’ve learned.

  • 0:08 – Upper body low on the start. You’ll peel off the wall if your upper body is up high, which I didn’t realize until a guy was trying to do this the other day and asked how I wasn’t falling off the start.
  • 0:10 – Turning your feet (and thus body) in place.
  • 0:17 – Back flag. I flag a lot, back flag almost never, but it was perfect here to keep my body from barn dooring.
  • 0:32 – I’ve actually tucked my hip onto that hold on the right.
  • 0:50 – I’m pushing down with my right foot, up with my right knee, and wedging my right leg in place between the two holds.
  • 0:53 – Repeating, “Trustyourgrip trustyourgrip trustyourgrip,” over and over ahead in my head.
  • 0:57 – Left knee is in an ugly rock-over. I’m just learning this technique, and as I study the video I realize I could have relied on it more at 0:42 as well.
  • 1:00 – OMG I made it to the far left hold!!!
  • 1:04 – Switching feet. Could have been cleaner, but at least I didn’t slip switching like I did at 0:13.
  • 1:10 – One attempt before this video, I felt sooo good knowing I could reach that final hold. In this video, I’m disappointed that I touched my knee on the black hold again. In the next and final attempt, I’m super thrilled about solving it fully.

Too much? Am I overanalyzing?

I think that’s actually a good thing.

Shime

For the last 9 months, we’ve been practicing on chu-daiko on angled stands, striking sideways from right to left, shifting our weight in a wide stance.

Yesterday, we switched to shime-daiko, smaller drums you play from a seated position the floor. It’s a totally different experience.

Instead of shifting your weight, your sit cross-legged on the ground. Instead of moving your arms diagonally, you move them straight up and down. There’s a subtle but core difference in arm extension: Instead of “flaring”, you “tuck”. The bachi are baby sized in comparison to the ones we’ve been using for chu-taiko.

Getting the new motion down is going to take some practice.

Maintaining a still and straight upper body while playing feels like a solid core workout. Also the baby bachi don’t cause blisters as easily. Double win!

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Since I started taiko drumming in February, I’ve attended two shows.

The first one was in April. My reaction? “Holy crap, they’re really good!”

The second one was last night. They’re still really good, but now I have a better appreciation of what they’re doing, what’s hard, what’s exhausting, what’s improv, and all the little tweaks they make during the course of a live performance.

It’s like how I learned to watch hockey differently over the years. Now as I watch people drum I analyze what I like about their style and try to incorporate some of it into my own.

What’s the taiko equivalent of an ice hockey lacrosse goal?

Paigey Boo

Niece number two has arrived! And I have just returned from a week in Boston to visit everyone.

World, meet Paigey Boo. She’s one month old, weighs a bazillion baby pounds, and loves to eat, sleep, poop, repeat.

Penny Boo is now three years old. Her English skills have exploded since my last visit, she can secretly understand more Chinese than she admits to, and she asks why I’m “talking like that” when I speak Spanish. She bargains logically, has decided pinky promises are fun, and has thus far managed to keep every one she’s made. Her imagination runs wild, but when the adults get too ridiculous she puts the brakes on and tells them, “It’s just pretend.” She has a fascinating fascination with bugs, and instead of asking for kids shows spent the week asking me to show her videos of cockroaches.

I’m not even kidding. She watched this entire video about cockroach live births without squirming.

The last time I visited, Penny asked to have a sleepover.

Penny: Want to have sleepover.
Sis: Really? But Mommy and Daddy won’t come.
Penny: Bye Mommy. *hugs Mommy* Bye Daddy. *hugs Daddy*
Sis:

My Mom shut that down right quick.

This time, she asked again.

Penny: Mommy, can I have a sleepover with Auntie Viv?

And so began a night of me getting whacked in the head repeatedly by the most restless kid ever, and my sister and brother in law’s best night of sleep in three years. They woke up at noon.

Here’s us with our international breakfast: French toast and Chinese buns.

Before I left, a couple folks asked about the foliage when I told them about my trip. Foliage is one of those things you don’t notice when you grow up with it, but it seems I’ve finally been gone long enough to notice it. My goodness, it’s beautiful.

That pretty much sums up my trip: family, foliage… and work. I got zero exercise, which is totally unlike me, and bothered me enough that I had a dream about running. Running! I hate running. And yet, there I was, getting my supple leopard on in my sleep.

Winter is coming. The next time I visit everything will be different all over again.

Nerd Heaven

Stopped by SF Japantown this afternoon to purchase the following stamp, which I discovered last Monday and didn’t realize I had to buy until I described it to Aaron later that evening:

It’s a girl wielding a hatchet riding a bear wearing a shirt with my last name on it.

It’s also my new signature stamp.

As I exited the stamp store I came across a yo-yo tricks gathering. These guys (and gal) were really good! Some of them were tricking while having conversations, not really looking at what they were doing.

They were standing in front of Aube Creamery, a soft serve place I wanted to try. The verdict? It is hands down the smoothest soft serve I have ever had. Would eat again!!! … Preferably while watching live yo-yo tricks 5 feet in front of me.

After that, I wandered some more, exploring the most bestest books and stationery in the land. I eventually found myself perusing a selection of portable pencil sharpeners.

Despite just having purchased a KUM Masterpiece, I couldn’t leave without the Alvin 9866 Brass Bullet. I mean, look at this thing:

<3

Bachi Bruises

Another week, another slew of new things to learn. We actually warmed up with something brand new. By the end of the night, we’d done so much drumming that the bony parts of my hands were starting to bruise. Kind of like when I first started playing hockey. It’s a good reminder that I’m still a taiko n00b.

On the upside, I kept up well enough to get the first line call for a final run of everything we were working on in the first half of class. I couldn’t tell if it was because Sensei wanted a solid finish going into break, or if he wanted to evaluate my drumming more closely. Either way, it was nerve wracking. Don’t mess up. DON’T MESS UP!!

I didn’t mess up.

Learned some more big movement arms in the air shifting back and forth sequences. I love those.

Nashvegas

I finally made it to Nashville last weekend. I’ve been wanting to visit since I was a wee little Asian country music fanatic living in Boston.

I’m not much of a country music lover these days, but this trip wasn’t for the music. It was for food! That, and the spectacle of Lower Broadway, a.k.a. Bachelorette Party Central. Bars and live music door after door after door, with the occasional boot shop sprinkled in. It was overwhelmingly loud and quite crowded.

Not loud or crowded, but overwhelmingly giant: The Gaylord Opryland Resort. It’s not a hotel, it’s a mini-city! That’s a thing??? Coming soon: a water park! I’m not even kidding.

Back to why I went: Food! I’m pretty sure I had biscuits and gravy every day. (Biscuit Love!) And barbecue. (Martin’s!) And hot chicken. (Boltons!) And meat-and-three. (Monell’s! That was more like three meat-and-threes, in a single meal.)

Also did an overnight trip to Chattanooga. Got a wonderful tour of the Tennessee Aquarium, then learned how to make bánh xèo from Hanh’s Mom. Super awesome unexpected bonus!

It was a whirlwind trip. So glad I go to do it! Much gratitude to Hanh for inviting me and her family for their hospitality.

Doko Doko Doko Doko Doko Doko Don

Holy bachi, taiko class is really picking up! We added a few new parts to our existing songs a couple weeks ago, then this week we jumped straight into a full set of something we practiced briefly in… February or March? In the second half of class, we learned a full set of something completely new to us.

I can’t tell if this is because Sensei feels time pressure to teach us everything before our show in January, or if he thinks we’re actually good enough now. I suspect it’s the former. Yikes!

For Decorative Purposes Only

In today’s episode of finding and cracking random lost locks, I am now in possession of a fabulously decorative but most definitely not secure Master Combo Lock, model 620DAST.

Master Luggage Lock Crack

I Googled how to crack master luggage lock, clicked on the first link, was taken to a USA Today article, and followed the instructions. Despite not setting a timer, I’m pretty sure it took under 5 minutes to open.

Locks continue to disappoint me.

No Going Back

Last week I found myself suiting up for hockey. My first game back! I was so excited.

As I finished putting my right shinguard on, I remembered: I can’t come back.

I turned to my teammate on my right. It was Raika. Last year I had to tell her I couldn’t play with the team in Thailand. This time I had to tell her I couldn’t play right before game time.

I wasn’t sad about it. Just like last year, I simply accepted it as fact. The only part I found upsetting was that I had to disappoint my teammate. Again.

I suspect I had this dream because now, a year later, I’ve decided I’m done coaching. I didn’t wake up one day and tell everyone; I’ve sort of let this idea settle in as I’ve stayed off the ice all summer. Now that Winter season is starting, people have been asking me whether I plan to continue coaching. My answer has been a consistent, natural, no. Not that I don’t like to coach, but it’s an awful lot of time and preparation, and while it’s rewarding, it doesn’t bring me anything close to the joy of playing an actual game. So while I have skills and knowledge to share, I no longer have super rad stoke to share. The skaters deserve more stoke, and I have a long list of things waiting for more time.

And so another chapter has ended. I’m grateful for the year I spent coaching after I stopped playing. I had fun designing practices and creating light bulb moments. In exchange, I got to process my impending full retirement from the ice.

Here I am, fully processed, and fully retired. It’s peaceful here in my hockey world.

As for all my other worlds… I could really use some more time for all these new hobbies.