Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tuesday Night Class

young wrestlersAfter finding out there were guys training Judo and Brazilian jui jitsu in the next town over, my BJJ teacher, Nate, and I drove over to train last Tuesday night.

They do a mix of mainly Judo and some BJJ, which share  common roots. And on Tuesday, along with the regular teacher who’s a black belt in Judo, there were two other Judo black belts who happened to be traveling through town and showed up to train. It was fun and interesting.

Three black belts teaching was good experience. But I noticed a couple of things.

The first thing was their focus on their Judo. During the introductions, I mentioned that Nate is a brown belt in BJJ, but the Judo folks didn’t ask any questions about his training or what we do. When it came to sparring, with everyone trading partners every 10 minutes, Nate submitted the three  black belts plus two regular students, one weighed about 245 lbs. I held my own with the big guy which was interesting because the guys I’ve practiced with are between 145 and 175 lbs so it was different game trying to move around with such a solid opponent.

The other thing I noticed was their use of Japanese. For some that’s probably something cool, but for me using jargon, especially from another language is a pet peeve. Using Japanese words only confuses and complicates information that’s already new and sometimes unclear. It just throws up an unnecessary barrier between the teacher and learner. I guess it promotes the history and a sense of being in the group for people who like jargon.

I’d guess they might ask more about BJJ next Tuesday and I’ll ask what their moves are called in English, or Spanish.

Where to be born?

green bldg w: cool signWe don’t have a say in where we’re born, but lately I’ve been wondering how much of human nature is set up by and then encouraged by how we  design and implement the institutions people live and work in.  The catalyst for this wondering comes from watching the HBO series “True Detective.”

True Detective is as enjoyable as “The Sopranos” was. The storyline, character development, setting, and filming all work to suck you in. The story takes place in South Louisiana. I was born and raised in New Orleans and most of the depictions of Louisiana in the show ring true.

The most clever and insightful of the two main characters is a detective who moved to Louisiana from Texas. That says  a lot, when the backward ways in Louisiana get a light shown on them by someone from Texas.

The only bad part about the series is seeing how backwards Louisiana is. I know that’s part of the charm of the place. But from the generally bad education system to deep-seated religiosity to a sometimes shady legal and penal system, Louisiana is a tough sell as an appealing place to live for most people.

If you were granted the ability to direct where a child could be born in order to give it the highest likelihood of a happy life, Louisiana wouldn’t be very high on the list of great places to grow up. The people are sweet but the institutions they live and work in aren’t.

The big house trick

tiny house in whiteWe live in a small house in Mexico. There’s a little grocery store about a block away and a laundry a half block from us. Before you get to the store, there’s a tortilla shop and across street from the laundry is a place selling roasted chickens. We’re surrounded by little businesses in our neighborhood. Within a block and a half radius of our house, there’s a hardware store, coffee shop, a kite shop, several restaurants, and more.

So it’s easy pretending we live in a house that’s about a block square. If I need something for the kitchen, going to the store is like walking to the pantry in a big house. The big house trick.

We store stuff at the store, instead of our small house.

There’s no reason for buying a plastic wrapped cube of 72 rolls of toilet paper we’d need to store somewhere while slowly chipping away at it when I can buy a few rolls at a time at our “pantry.” We don’t need to stock up.

Sure, we go to the big box stores sometimes too. But it’s for things we can’t get somewhere else. Those trips aren’t for bulk purchases that’ll clutter our house, becoming a pain in the neck instead of convenient and thrifty. It’s not thrifty if you have to pay for a bigger house to accommodate more  stuff, and then you need to heat, air condition,and clean the extra space.

Super-sized packs of things can erode a peaceful and relaxing home when there’s not enough room for them. A cluttered home quickly becomes a source of stress nibbling away at your tranquillity because you feel like a hoarder.

There’s no need to stock up. The apocalypse isn’t near, unless you consider running out of dish soap the end of the world.

Plus it’s nice walking to the store visiting with people along the way and in the shop.


IMG_4150There’s so much stuff for sale or on view that we tend to forget the originality of regular people.

Most of our entertainment, our clothes and even our costumes are creations of professional artists. Those pros are usually good and often original, but they’re professionals so we expect them to be good.

A friend sent me pictures of his cousin’s Mardi Gras costume that he’d made and paraded in. The picture at the right is of the costume in action. Pretty impressive and original! And so was my friend’s, which was a slightly larger than life Roman centurion costume that looked more manageable than a giant face from a dream.

I don’t know if the giant face is supposed to be someone, but it doesn’t matter it’s original and cool.