Thursday, May 6, 2010

Things have been a little crazy around here lately, and I have not written for a specific reason for which I'll get into later...

Laura had been hard at work threeish weeks ago when I stopped posting.  She was studying hard for finals and I was trying my best to keep up and make sure that her life outside of school was as easy as possible.  She passed all her exams (thankyouverymuch) and has been enjoying a relaxing last few weeks chilling out on the beach and staying as far away from campus as possible.  Laura's mom also dropped by for a bit and took in all that was St. Kitts, and I hope enjoyed herself.  

It was during her visit that things got a little weird:

There was a cruise ship that was stationed here for a few days, which is odd since cruise ships normally don't stay in port for more than a day.  It was small, and its uniqueness led Laura's mom to investigate further into the little ship that was docked here for a week.  So she got online and searched for the name of the boat, "Freewinds".

This search took her to the nearest available wikipedia page found here:

Evidently, this boat has ties to the Church of Scientology, and it is here on this boat that high-ranking members of the church go to train to be better Scientologists.  I don't know how many of you are familiar with Scientology, but I think a good place to start would be the heavily moderated Wikipedia page.

Members of the church spend a good deal of hard-earned cash to become more advanced members of the religion, which I think is a ludicrously preposterous concept.  At the upper echelons of the religion members literally spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to "level-up" (my term not theirs), on the "Freewinds" especially (do you italicize or put in quotes the name of a ship?  I'll look it up later, I suppose) there are many very high levelled members of the church at a time.

Let's just say--if you didn't read the article or do any other research before reading this entry-- there was a particularly high concentration of batshit crazy people on St. Kitts for a while.

I waited to post this for a number of reasons, as I was afraid some present Scientologists would by some way find this blog and decide to straighten me out, this happens with members from time to time.  Also, the church is infamously and notoriously litigious; I figure my chances were better waiting a tick before I posted anything about them.  Probably overly paranoid, but no reason not to be cautious.

Also, and perhaps weirder than having a crapload of OT8s here, (yes that is theactual name of their level) is I recently ran a sub 6 minute mile.  Weird.

Let's look at some chosen at random pictures!

Really cute newborn sheep (tail down)

An artistic statue at the Nevis Botanical Gardens.  What?  It's Artistic!

Being branded by Dave, our Volleyball 2nd in command.  

Pretty flower found on Nevis (my mom took this one)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm Making a Note Here... HUGE SUCCESS

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, our volleyball team, The Pudendals, won the B-League (kind of like JV) intramural volleyball tournament.  If you're wondering what a Pudendal is, I don't blame you, evidently it is the artery that supplies (and I quote) "the organs of shame".

Brian, our team captain, throwing down

Laura, ready and able

I dunno if I hit this one...
There was some tough competition, but in the end, we won some Grey Goose and a case of Heineken.

On this island, often you have to adapt.  Here I've had to change my workout type, the gym I go to doesn't have many heavy weights, and so I've had to move away from a traditional body-building approach to fitness and move towards bodyweight, high intensity exercises.  Burpees, pullups, swimming, and interval running has been the invention of necessity for me as of late:

This is what's known as a "Tabata" protocol 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight sets. Doesn't sound like much, but by the end you want to throw up.

Luckily I can still do a good number of core lifts like deadlifts and cleans, unfortunately there is no squat rack in the gym! What a travesty! Ah well. I can say though that I am getting into the best shape of my life, but every step has hurt... badly.

Because of this I've decreased my mile time to almost 6 minutes, and am on the way to 100 (almost) consecutive burpees.  I also know that my maximum volume of oxygen has increased, which for an asthmatic is very important, and I'm able to drill Judo for longer, with more intensity and control.  For the first time in a while, I am feeling pretty good. Thank you Tabata protocol!

Moving on up (to the Eastside)

Moved to a new place further up the hill from where we used to be staying.

Overall, really pleased with the new place, it's clean, well lit and there aren't any dogs I've heard to keep us up at night.

Very small kitchen
New bedroom, very comfotable (I kept Laura's drawer open because she says I always do it). Picture revenge!
Our Bathroom is very colorful at the moment
Our balcony view from the inside

Our car is being a total pain in the ass, I'm thinking that it may be the carburetor, damn thing doesn't start well in the morning, but once it does the first time, it does the rest of the day.   

Our car's (only) moment of glory?

Though this was quite a while ago, my Mom visited and I thought I should put some of the pics up: 
Us at the beach

Mom at Brimstone

The biggest thing I miss from home are no doubt my family and my friends.    

I've also learned of a Judo club on the island, it seems that there are martial arts happening all over the island, but everyone is scattered and disorganized, I'm hoping that there will be an opportunity for me to head to this new club and check it out to see what it's like.  

Some recent uchikomi:

Luckily the internet at our place is more stable, and allows me to upload more videos, pictures etc.  Yay.

I suppose that will be it for now, more to come!

Friday, April 2, 2010


So apparently, tomorrow means sometime in a week (or more).  My bad.

I think that my indiscretion should illicit some kind of response, so here we go, we are going to review some things on here and I'll try to make it a monthly thing (we'll see).

Beers of the Caribbean (an ongoing series?)

I was worried about beer here.  Coming from a German family, and with a heavy tradition of good microbrews in the Pacific Northwest, I have had some good beers.  When I think The Caribbean, for one reason or another beer doesn't spring to mind right off the bat, and with this in mind I was worried that the quality of beer would be lacking.  Luckily, I was wrong (mostly).


Alongside Red Stripe, Carib is arguably the quintessential Caribbean beer: it has a light flavor, it's very refreshing, and has a very simple taste (the ingredients read: water, malted barley, sugar, hops).  Luckily its simplicity is part of the charm.  A hint of citrus flavor that really gives it a nice, crisp smack at the end.  However, like many lagers, this one is simple.  It has one note, and though that note is pretty, it might get dull after a while.  When it's cold though (please god, let it be cold), this is a great beer to drink with dinner, with lunch (I even think my Grandfather would like this one), and with friends.

Maybe a lime too.

Game Review (Non-gamers avert your eyes)


Diablo was good in 1997, and hey, it still is.  Everything is like Diablo, everything.  I mean even the music for the town of Torchlight sounds exactly like the music of Tristram from Diablo.  Think David Bowie and Vanilla Ice.

Sure some things have been improved, you have a pet who you can equip with items and spells (and who can make selling runs to town for you), the interface is better than the original Diablo, and the inventory system is way better, but man oh man, it is exactly like Diablo.  Though I do like the steampunk element to the game...

After a while though, you have so many potions, minions, and crazy good spells, there's no need to pay attention any more, just left and right click to win the game.

The being said, I still had fun, though I wish there was a multiplayer component to the game.  This would have been a lot of fun in co-op.

Judo Fail

I was going to put up my uchikomi fail, but the internet is not cooperating here at the moment, so i'll do it when it's a bit more stable.  Until next time!

Monday, March 22, 2010


So I think I've decided to change up the format of the blog a little bit.  What I hope to do break each post into a number of different sections, starting from what would be the most accessible in the beginning, and getting into smaller and smaller niches that many people wouldn't find interesting.

Island/daily life --> cooking --> history --> Judo --> other miscellany (eg videogames, movies, and other niche hobbies)

Hopefully this will save you, dear reader, from any unwanted pains.

More tomorrow...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Exercism [sic]

No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…[W]hat a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.

Growing up I tried to be an athlete, however, one thing that had set me back was that at a young age I was diagnosed with moderate Asthma (which is something of a misnomer, as not breathing is rarely moderate!).  One of the first asthma attacks that I remember was being in the pool at a swimming lesson, I was probably about eight years old at the time, and fancied myself quite the mediocre swimmer, feared by men and loved by The Ladies everywhere!  I recall the exact instances that it occurred...

We were drilling the front crawl:  

Y'know this one?  

Anyway, I remember that I got around halfway through the drill (4 total laps, width-wise, lawl) and quickly my breathing became faster and more shallow, my chest felt like it was full of cotton balls that were lit on fire, and I could feel myself getting dizzy.  My instructor-- who I remember well because of this particular instance-- let me continue on my own for the next two laps back, like any good instructor should, after all it builds character to push through these sorts of things.  Right?

In any case, I continued to swim, and on the last lap back, my arms and legs became lead weights attached to my torso that were dragging me under the water from what I can only imagine came from oxygen deprivation.  I couldn't finish my front crawl, so I doggy paddled the last half-lap back to my waiting classmates (I was, of course, the last one to finish).  

The reason I tell this story is to clarify why I love Socrates' (via Xenophon) above quote.  His comments may seem harsh at first but I think Socrates has it right as he advises that a citizen do what their body is capable of.  We will, for the the purposes of this post, ignore the Greek's (and Socrates') fascination with physical beauty, as the beautification of the body for the Greeks was proportionate to the amount of exercise they performed (the Greeks didn't have the same understanding of diet than we do, but they were still pretty damn smart when it comes to that too).

For me, it is also telling that a person like Socrates, who is and was known for his intellect, spoke often and openly about the importance of physical exercise.  Socrates, like many citizens of ancient Greece fought in a number of battles, and was recorded as quite heroic in the ones that he participated in.  Greek warfare, to oversimplify, was an extremely tiring affair, and it was necessary to be physically fit to remain combat-effective.  

Greek Red-figure kylix (drinking cup, where we get the term chalice) showing a soldier in full panoply (armor set) everything this soldier is wearing/holding would have weighed 60-80 pounds.  Keep in mind also that people were much smaller 2500 years ago, when a large man would have been 5'8" and weighed 180 pounds the average man would have been 5'2" and weighed 160 or less!  

So is there a correlation between intelligence and physical exercise?  I would postulate that there is little to indicate that inherent intelligence has little to do with how naturally athletic someone is (look no further than high school jocks).  However, what I think is of particular importance to the furtherance of one's mind is the ability of the mind to push itself through hardship in a healthy manner.  Physical exercise is the most easily reproduce-able experiment in which one could create an environment to push through hardship.

While I certainly don't equate intellectual exercises with physical ones, I would hypothesize that they are correlated in some ways.  In many fields of study (for normal humans, notwithstanding outliers like Beethovens, Einsteins, etc.) resilience is more necessary than inherent talent.  At least I really hope so!  
I'm no physical dynamo or intellectual titan, and I probably won't be winning any Nobel Prizes or Olympic medals; but I swam those two last goddamn laps, and that's gotta mean something.  

PS (yes I realize the absurdity of adding a postscript over the internet) In semi-related news for those (if any) who care about my Judo posts I broke my rubber bands for uchikomi, even worse I have it on tape.  It was very embarassing, for a number of reasons, and I am debating whether to put the video up on here...

Me, often.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Skies Like Us

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. 
-Rabindranath Tagore

It's been raining here the last two days, something I've missed quite a bit!

Nothing happens in St. Kitts when it rains, nothing gets done (well less than usual gets done) and the locals largely spend their time indoors.  When it's raining on the island I imagine that most Oregonians would feel like Edmund Hillary or Tenzing Norgay here: everyone goes running for cover, and the Oregonian would trudge along happily with naught a care in the world!

Tenzing Norgay = YOU in St. Kitts when it rains

We'll go through a little tour of the house when it is raining, this blog could probably use something a little more conventional...

View from the front yard, raining

View to the south of the ocean

Lawn chair in the front yard: classy

Looking in the backyard: mango, avocado, and juju berry trees to the left.

I've been looking forward to the HBO miniseries The Pacific which details various battles in the Pacific theater of World War II.  It's going to be filmed in the same tradition of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers and so I think that the theater will be represented dutifully.  Check it out if you get a chance!