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Classnotes forthcoming

centaur 0
For all the students in my Introdution to Artificial Intelligence
course ... never fear, the coursenotes are coming. Check out the
classes link to see where the notes will be...
right now this is a placeholder, but I've got more content built up
now and will get it up, hopefully, by the end of the day Monday.

-Anthony

Excellent Anatomic Reduction…

centaur 0
Since some have asked ... "excellent anatomic reduction" just means "your bone is set well." ;-)

Actually, what it *really* means is that the doctor was able to match the bone ends together and return the bone to its original anatomical shape:

Reduction, Alignment, and Fixation

Now, anatomic reduction is what the doctor achieved while I was on the operating table, even before the plate was screwed in. What the doctor hoped (and got) to see was that the good reduction they achieved in surgery (where all the pieces fit together the way they were originally anatomically aligned) remained in place over the intervening two weeks thanks to the plate-and-screw fixation.

And it did. Yay! No news on when my ACME springloaded metal spike attachment will arrive, though.

-the Centaur

A Promising Range of Motion

centaur 0
At two weeks, I went back for my follow-up visit. The cast came off, the staples came out, and after an X-Ray, the doctor pronounced that the bone had achieved "excellent anatomic reduction":





Even before I went in, my friends were all commenting that my fingers seemed to be moving better in the cast/sling thing they had me in, as did the physician's assistant when I arrived; however, once the cast came off the doctor positively cooed over the flex in my fingers and the range of rotation. "Look at that rotation right out of the box. Are your nerves OK? Flex your fingers. Ok. That's great. You'll get full function back in that arm." A promising range of motion indeed.





I'll be carrying this charming little comb of metal around in my arm for a while --- and likely carrying a card to get myself through airport security for a while --- but darn, modern medicine is grand.

-the Centaur



Living the Low-Torque Lifestyle

centaur 0
Among the many things made difficult by having one's right arm in a sling are a few surprises --- like the inability to apply torque.

I've injured my right wrist before, so I expected it would be difficult to type one handed (especially for a programmer who extensively uses shortcut keys --- try Ctrl-Alt-Shift-O one handed!), or to write one handed (especially bills and checks; they move when you can't hold them down), or to drive one handed (fumble for your right pocket keys, then the ignition, then the seat belt, then the gear shift --- thank God for automatics!) I've had to reduce the number of books I carry to lunch (to my benefit) and obviously heavy lifting is right out.

But it wasn't obvious at all --- perhaps because my previous injury was not so severe --- that I wouldn't be able to *twist* things. When the arm was still
unset for the first three days, even the slightest applied torque was intensely painful. And so I counted it a great victory when, after the bone plate was installed, I was finally able to rip open a pack of Sweet'NLow using something other than my teeth.

However, the problem persists. Opening jars one might expect to be a problem. But being unable to squeeze ice out of ice trays? Unable to fold pants? The problem is worse because I recruit my less deft left hand for everything else ... and thus more frequently drop things, causing my right hand to jerk after whatever I've dropped in an attempt to catch it ... resulting in another painful twinge.

But, it is feeling better --- itchy rather than twingy --- so I'm going to
hope and pray for the best at my doctor's appointment tomorrow!

I, Taurborg

centaur 1
Thanks to the charming folks over at Resurgens Othopaedics and Saint Joseph's Hospital, who graciously squeezed me into the schedule way early Saturday morning, I now have a prototype bionic arm. Well, an adamantium skeleton, anyway. Ok, so it's just a bone plate. But it is still cool:



At this juncture they think I have a stong chance to regain more or less full function. w00+! But it is my typing hand, and typing with the other hand is getting tiring, so I'm going to go ice it, elevate it and get back to the full story in a couple of days.

-Anthony

Don’t get those

centaur 0
Ohayoo, taidoka and fanuka! Today's lesson is, "Why to duck rather than block".



I take Taido, a modern martial art focusing on three dimensional movement. One of its most distinctive features is its combination of offense and defense. For example, a key offensive move is is ebigeri, a "shrimp kick" that moves your body out of the line of attack while firing back with a heel kick powered by the change in body axis. A key defense move is half fukuteki, a ducking maneuver which pops you back from an attack but leaves you coiled to deliver an hip-twisting eji zuki punch.

Taido's strategy values this defense-offense synergy over blocks, which waste energy while exposing you to potential injury. Speaking of which...

CRACK! "Hey ... that doesn't feel right..."

SO, the thirtieth anniversary of Taido in the US will be celebrated with an international tournament, and so we at Georgia Tech Taido are preparing now. Tuesday night, in jissen (sparring) practice, I got nailed in the forearm by a supa supa smooth, perfectly timed ebi geri fired off by one of our black belts and yes, indeedy, my arm was broken.

Kudos to our senior brown belt Shelly and her husband Greg for running me to Piedmont Hospital and providing moral support, and double kudos to sensei Corey for both his excellent technique and great sportsmanship --- he checked over my forearm right away, knew all the right questions to ask, and let me recuperate while keeping the class running smoothly until Shelly rolled me out the door. (And mongo kudos to my girlfriend Sandi, who stayed the night to help out even though she'd been up 24 hours straight.)

And as for the break? Big lesson: if you hear a crack, it feels loose or it looks out of shape, ice it and go get it looked at ASAP. Most breaks heal in 2 months or so. Mine is a classic nightstick fracture --- treatable in kids by setting the bone but in adults by implanting a metal plate, which has a seven times higher success rate. Surgery is tomorrow, and it will probably be 3-4 months before I can fully resume all activities.

SO, and while it will take at least that long for me to try backflips again, I think this is a good opportunity to focus on my footwork! (When Corey suggested to us at the beginning of class that our hand movement and foot movement are too closely tied and we need to break that in jissen, I don't think he meant us to take that so literally! ;-)

Now, I had some time to think about this while recuperating, and this is what I came up with (based on my mental reconstruction of what happened; but since it went very fast, YMMV). Much of this may have meaning only to a Taido student, but here goes:

Face cover and stomach cover work.
While I said earlier that "this is why we duck rather than block", that's not quite true --- I was doing an untai no ski and pulled my hand down in just the right timing to protect my torso. (As it was I was lucky; he pulled it just a bit because this was a friendly match, so I was in no real danger; in a more serious fight, that same maneuver would have traded me a broken arm for a more serious broken rib and maybe a knockout). Corey said it best at the beginning of class: keep your hands up and make them purposeful.

Keep watching!
Corey nailed me because he saw what I was going to do, saw the opportunity and took it. I too saw what he was doing and had a millisecond chance to abort and fukuteki ... and with more practice I will. As Chris says, keep looking.

Duck rather than block.
The real problem was that I haven't trained myself to duck rather than just move in wth more forward attacks. As Chad has said, we need to focus on Taido: ducking rather than blocking or jamming. With enough live defense to offense practice I would have seen the "opportunity" to fukuteki away from the ebigeri and just done it ... just like Brian E. showed us last night how practice can help you instinctively recognize the opportunity to nengi under a senjo and just do it (which he did pretty effectively to me last night). This kind of defense to offense fluidity is Taido.

Anyway, enough karate theory. This little break may mean some changes over at fanufiku.com ... I'm now trying to recruit guest artists to fill in the gaps --- contact me at centaur at dresan dot com if you are interested.

More news as it happens.

-Anthony

And for the record…

centaur 0
... that should have been "where oh where has my fiku gone", because in the f@anu fiku universe Xiao Dreamweaver uses "fanu" to mean her fans and "fiku" to refer to her fiction. Just to be all nitpicky and technical.

Where oh where have my fanu gone?

centaur 0
Hm... f@nu fiku is down.

But so are my hosting provider and my domain name provider for that site and at least one other site I control. So it's not just some bandwidth limit thing ....

Hmmm... more news as it happens.

Throw your head at the ground and miss

centaur 1
"I know Taido..." "...show me." (To the tune of Neo vs. Morpheus).

Seriously, I learned to front handspring today. A quick step forward throwing yourself down on your hands, and your body flips over you and just pops back up to a standing position, and, to my great surprise, I can actually do this. Repeatably.

I honestly didn't think it was possible for me getting a such a late start in karate at the ripe old age of 30. I mean, yes, I took karate in my early teens, and yes, I took it for about a year in college, but as far as I'm concerned I really *seriously* got started around 30. Despite that, after all this time I assumed that the young turks doing front flips and backflips and front and back handsprings were just able to do so because they were 15 years younger than me (I am now 35).

But apparently after five years of practice, you learn something.

While I'd been doing a great deal of component practice (handstands, cartwheels, a variety of tumbles, back arches, back wall hand walks, and assisted back flip practice) the first time I ever tried to put a back handspring together was tonight --- and thanks to great teachers and great encouragement from my classmates, it just frickin worked.

Don't try this at home, fanu, but it's just throwing your head at the ground and missing. No, more seriously --- lean forward on to your hands and flip forward over them, using your hands to hold yourself up while you pitch forward onto your butt. Sound easy? Ok, speed that up with a few running steps until you're comfortable flipping forward over your hands and onto your butt. Got that? Now watch the ground while you throw your body over ... your back will naturally arch while you fall on your butt. Ok, now kick your feet up like you're doing a cartwheel ... and surprise yourself when you pop back up onto your feet. Even more seriously don't try this at home --- get yourself a karate or gymnastics teacher and a big mat to practice on --- but once you get the hang of it it's amazing. By the end of the evening, I didn't even need a running start anymore --- I could practically do it in place.

I even found out, but did not get to try, *why* we're doing this insane stuff --- one of the black belts showed us how a front handspring could turn into a superfast (and devastating) ax kick.

So the moral of the story is, if you believe that you can't do something ... OR believe that something's too crazy to do ... OR don't put in the effort to learn all the pieces, you'll see people doing things that *look* amazing which you will *assume* are impossible ... but the reality is that if you assume it IS possible for you, take it on faith that it's worth doing, and put in the effort to build up all the pieces ... why, then anything's possible for you.

Next I plan to work on my hover.

Oh, and I just discovered RSS…

centaur 0
... so sue me. Or just subscribe to the Library of Dresan
RSS Feed.
Actually technically it's an Atom feed, but, hey, they're all the same to SharpReader.

Ok, so now I have to upgrade my Python webcomic script to produce an XML site feed, which I suppose means I have to add XML support to Sangreal for when I switch the script over to Sangreal. Rassen frassen ... yes, I *do* plan to join the 21st century, give me a break...

girls, books and stuffed animals

centaur 0
A new webcomic has popped up, filled with girls, books, and... uh... stuffed animals. Sort of. Anyway, in a show of solidarity with our fellow webcomic artists, check out girls with slingshots, which just started.

In similar powergrrrl vein, I recommend The Devil's Panties ("It's not satanic porn, honest!") and Namir Deiter. And always, I recommend Kevin and Kell, an excellent anthropomorphic strip about differences and the joys they cause.

Run for President, Get Arrested

centaur 1
Apparently there are some hazards associated with not being
in the #1 or #2 party slot. Libertarian Presidential candidate
Michael Badnarik was arrested trying to serve the Commission
on Presidential Debates with papers accusing them of illegally
excluding him from the debate:

Badnarik/Campagna '04 for President


"The first report from St. Louis is in - and presidential candidates Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) and David Cobb (Green Party) were just arrested. Badnarik was carrying an Order to Show Cause, which he intended to serve the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Earlier today, Libertarians attempted to serve these same papers at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the CPD - but were stopped from approaching the CPD office by security guards."


Mmm, mmm, mmm. Never let it be said that the process isn't
slanted to the top two parties, by the top two parties.
-Anthony

Dreams too big for the sky

centaur 1
f@nu fiku is here.

Right now most of the material on the site is preliminary
(and yes, I know there are broken links; they'll be fixed
after I finish giving a talk this week) but the storyline
for the first arc, Premonitions, begins on Monday.

(... and in case you're wondering why the story
story doesn't begin until next week... it's because I
wanted to get in the habit of forcing myself to finish
at least one page each week so I won't fall behind.
Currently I'm five weeks ahead. Let's see how long
that lasts.)

Enjoy.

Fanu Fiku … aaalmost there …

centaur 0
The Wizard. The Warrior. The Seer. The Saint. The Scientist. The Mystic.
And the young girl who can take them...
...anywhere she can imagine.

Fanu Fiku

Weekly. Starting October 4.

The Gallery is OPEN!

centaur 0
A whole passel of my art can now be seen on the Gallery page.

Kudos to Gordon for pointing out IrfanView, which made building the gallery a breeze.

And in other news, Fanu Fiku: Premonitions starts online October 4th and will run weekly. As I get ahead/behind on Fanu Fiku, I may or may not try to get Death Wish finished in online comic form as well.

Hope yall enjoy!

Okay, OKAY, I *get* the *point*!

centaur 0
SO I'm sitting in a panel atAnime Weekend Atlanta 10 listening to the always delightful Piro talk about how drawing works for him, busy taking notes while sketching faces for practice in the margins.

Then the panel ends ... and a young lady sitting next to me asks me to do a sketch, because she liked what I was drawing so much. Then someone else commented on my t-shirt. And finally, out of the blue, while I was talking to a distributor of the fanfilm "Batman vs. Joker vs. Aliens vs. Predator vs. more Aliens vs. more Predators", he asked, "So, do you have a web site, and is any of your stuff on it?"

So, OKAY, I get the point! I'll put f@nu fiku and my other art online already. The gallery is half done, hopefully to be finished by Wednesday, and the front cover of Fanu Fiku will go up on Monday.

Stay tuned...

Ok, I forgive you…

centaur 1
... "Sky Captain" wasn't that bad.

I saw it again (all of it, this time) with my girlfriend, who wasn't too surprised I didn't like it ... she likes escapism, I want realism. But as time went on the sheer visual beauty of the movie, wooden acting, and tin dialogue faded in my mind, and I was struck by how many beautiful ideas there were in the movie. How many clever touches it had. How many little pieces just fit together. How well, despite its flaws, the overall story was told.

And then I ran across this little snippet on how they made it. and was struck by the love the director had for his subject: the skyhook on the Empire State Building that the Hindenberg III docks on was real ... the Hindenburg III was really on the drawing board ... and many of the other things in the movie were from Mr. Conran's childhood dreams. And so he buckled down, with a cheesy computer and no funds, and made his dream fucking happen. You go with your bad self.

So, I forgive you, Mr. Conran, for the flaws in your movie: you really did turn out an amazing piece of work, and I apologize for my snap judgement. But, please, given the amazing skill you show in every other area, please, please, please write and direct some small plays where you focus on dialogue and work with real actors BEFORE you've storyboarded out your next multimillion dollar movie.

I promise you, if you turn out several small shorts just for you and your friends in a context where it's safe for you to go out on a limb and try and fail, then your next movie will kick "Sky Captain's" butt.

Perhaps I was too hasty…

centaur 0
... for others who just saw "Drek Captain and the World of Stupidity" questioned whether I was seeing the same movie they were. I can't answer that; all I can say is that what I was watching was the moment visual style finally vanquished intellectual substance. Perhaps I was too hasty. Certainly the movie was visually imaginative.

But I guess after September 11 I want a little realism in my escapism: I think wonderful tales told of heroes who save the day for all the little people who can only sit back and do nothing end up with the little people who did nothing ending up dead.

Because there are no heroes.
If you want to save the world, stand up and do it yourself.