First Line

In taiko class, the drums are arranged in two rows. More experienced students play in the front row, so students in the back row can watch and learn. Sensei decides who plays in which row.

This past month, depending on turnout, I’ve started to get more time in the front row. The first time it happened, it was a little nerve wracking. I was playing directly in front of Sensei and I really didn’t want to mess up.

Yesterday, I spent most of our 2 hour class playing in the front. I definitely worked harder on form to not look like a slacker, but mentally everything felt normal.

After class, one of the regular front row students asked, “How’d you like your extended run on the first line?”

The first line! That’s how you know you’ve made it in hockey.

I guess I’ve made it in taiko now too.

(I’m kidding. You know I’m kidding, right? It’s ridiculous how much there is to learn.)


This weekend, I looked at a 5.10a route and asked, “How quickly can I climb this thing?”

I tied in and scrambled up the wall as fast as I could. 57 seconds.

Once back on the ground, I counted the number of hand hold moves: 20.

Given the standard pattern of hand hold, move one foot, move other foot, repeat, that comes out to approximately one move per second.

On one hand, I’m pleased that I could decide and move without interruption. Also, my forearms weren’t at all tired from the climb.

On the other hand, it simply wasn’t fun. It turns out one of the things I like about climbing is deliberately planting and feeling a solid hold and balanced body position. I don’t get that when I’m just trying to move fast.

Speed climbing (this wasn’t even close), definitely not my thing.

Whistler! Bike Park Edition!

It’s been 15 years since my last (and first) visit to Whistler.

That trip was for snow. This trip was for dirt. Bike paarrrk!!

We got up super early two Saturdays ago, caught the first flight to Vancouver, grabbed some Tim Horton’s:

… hopped on a shuttle, and arrived at the village by 1 PM. It was early enough to gear up for an afternoon of riding, but it was sooo smokey from nearby wildfires I decided to save my lungs. Seriously, it was like we had landed in India all over again.

This turned out to be a great decision, because we had arrived at the tail end of Crankworx and it was time for Red Bull Joyride! It is by far my most favoritest Crankworx event.

Getting to watch Joyride in person was magical. And holy crap, I knew the jumps were big from watching it online all these years, but in person they’re HUUUUUGE. Watching Nicholi Rogatkin and Brett Rheeder throw down flawless superhuman tricks on that course brought tears to my eyes. Or maybe it was the smoke.

Naw, it was Joyride.

After Joyride I went to check out my rental rig, a 2018 Norco Aurum Carbon. I gave it a once over and asked for the baby coil (because I weigh nothing) plus some fresh tires for the next day. They did even better and put fresh brake pads on as well. The bike felt great when I picked it up the next morning.

To the bike park! The Aurum was my first ride on a full downhill bike. The last time I made a jump that big it was from my cross country Anthem to the Giant Reign, back in 2010. I remembered finding the slacker head angle awkward to maneuver. This time, however, I felt right at home. The Aurum was cushy, stable, and confidence inspiring. Was it me, or the bike? Probably both.

I spent my first day getting used to the new rig, and to trail conditions at Whistler. It was late into a very dry season, and everything was bumpy and dusty. My hands hurt by the middle of the day. When I took my gloves off at lunch, I’d lost a layer of every callus.

Conditions aside, this bike was rad! At speed, I could pump the bike and launch over swaths of rocks. Randomly playing around resulted in accidental manuals. I felt like a pro.

On day two, I focused on riding more technical trails, working my way down random black diamonds. The beauty of a downhill bike is you can point it down super steep chunk and it magically delivers you to the bottom upright and intact. Yes, there’s skill involved, but way less than would be required on a bike with a different geometry.

In the afternoon, I visited a midmountain skills area and made a couple GoPro videos. When I analyzed them later I didn’t like my midair body position. I decided to work on fixing it the next day.

Aaron spent day three with me on the flow trails, airing it out Crank It Up, C-More (Butts), and A-Line over and over. By the end of the day I was clearing most of jumps on Crank It Up and C-More. Yaaasssss!!

We also chased the trail photographers that day (they post a schedule), because where else are you gonna have a professional photographer sitting around with a fill flash setup waiting for you to ride by? They did not disappoint.

My jump disappointed, though. Gotta work on my steeze!

The food, like the photographer(s), did not disappoint. I’d be perfectly happy having Purebread every morning and Peaked Pies every night.

Finally, pics or I didn’t Whistler! Here I am doing my best inukshuk impression:

Google Hogar

Earlier today, Aaron sent me a link to this: Meet the bilingual Google Assistant with new smart home devices

When I got home, I switched our Google Home to the two languages we’re learning: Spanish and Japanese.

Then I went to my office and realized I had to ask Google to turn on the lights. Hilarity ensued.

Eventually, I figured out both the verb and the conjugation to turn the lights on and off. Imperative tense FTW!

However, Google seemed to recognize only 30% of the lights in the house, none of which were in my office. I eventually figured out I had to rename “office” to “oficina”. Finally, I had light.

A non-English speaking Google Home is either going to be really good for my Spanish, or really frustrating, because if I can’t get what I want from Google I’m going to have to resort to Alexa, who can’t even understand me in English.

Crossed Arm Reverse Windmill Mess

It was a beautiful day for a stroll in the park, so I grabbed my ball lens strolled through the nether regions of Twin Pines Park, then headed for the rose garden in San Mateo Central Park. And since I was in Central Park, I stopped to see if Jerry was around. He was!

We started with a checkin on my really messy Mills Mess. I have some work to do to clean up my tosses. We broke each toss down to basics and I practiced tossing one, two, three, four… It really helped to focus on each ball individually.

After that, he asked, “Do you know Windmill?” I didn’t, so he taught me that as well. Turns out it’s easier than Mills Mess.

After Windmill, “Have you done a crossed arm Reverse Cascade?” I hadn’t, so we did that one too. Turns out it’s easier than Windmill.

Speaking of Reverse Cascade, Jerry showed me a variation of two ball Columns that looks super cool, like a Reverse Cascade. Definitely going to work this into my two ball routine.

So many new patterns to work on! But first, getting the basics right. Nice loopy tosses. Especially the left hand. It’s a little derpy.


Some thoughts from my sit today.

One might say that I’m not “supposed” to be thinking during my sits, but sitting works way better when you don’t hold yourself to supposed tos.

It’s not about sitting really still. It was probably that belief that made 30×11 so difficult.

For me, the great challenge when I sit now is that fact that there is so much going around me, inside me, and in my mind. I only notice these things when I’m still.

It takes about 15 minutes for my mind to really settle. When it does, I’m finding I can truly observe my breath without trying to control it.

Speaking of time, my current conundrum is I want to set my timer for 30 minutes, but that seems too long, so I set it for 20 minutes, and I’m only really settled for 3-5 minutes at the end. Having said that what does “seems too long” even mean? Am I afraid I won’t be able to sit for that long? So what if I don’t? There is no supposed to, remember?

Next sit, 30 minute timer.

Audibly Showy

The last couple months we’ve been working on string together all the new stuff from May and June. Collectively, we have a couple good sequences chock full of rim taps, light taps, twirly sticks, tossy sticks, showy arms, and footwork.

At the end of class last week, Sensei introduced a couple new things: over the head stick taps and sliding rim taps. I like them, it’s audibly showy, and our class is predictably hilarious trying to learn the new motions.

Sensei laughed at us, said we’d work on it next week, and closed out the class with a full set of one of the sequences we’ve been working on.

Thanks to various travel schedules, I’ll be going 3 weeks between classes. Good thing we live in the future and I can study the new sequence from our Facebook group video.


10 years ago: Spiderrr!! *whack whack whack whack whack*

3 years ago: Spider! It’s more scared of me than I am of it. *tremble*

1 year ago: Spider. *carries it outside*

6 months ago: Spider, I’m going to leave the room, and when I come back you won’t be here.

Today: Sup, bud.

Sin Ingles

When I want a digital Chinese character, it’s easier for me to translate my way to it than to try to write it.

In the past, this meant translating from English.

Now, because all my translation tools default to Spanish, English isn’t even in the picture.

Being able to operate across two non-English languages feels incredibly satisfying.

Also, in today’s episode of todo en EspaƱol, I logged into my Kaiser account and was greeted with “Bienvenido, Vivian.”

Might as well. Es bueno para la plasticidad del cerebro.