my life

How I'm spending my summer so far...

A note to my friend Robin explains what I've been up to recently: (also see this post at her blog with paintings by the Japanese kids she's teaching)


Hi Robin! Many travels lately - we had the wonderful 30th Anniversary celebration for Seido karate earlier this month, people from all over the world - Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Jamacia, Poland, Germany, UK, Brazil, US - came to Columbia U in NYC for five days of special seminars and classes, and a charity benefit tournament. I even met some folks from Osaka; now if I get back over there for a while, as I hope to eventually, I might have some people to play with. It was a *wonderful* gathering!

Then I was off to the Free Spirit Gathering, one of those pagan things I go to each summer, dancing around bonfires late into the night...

Monday I'm off to Chicago for a few days, visiting some Seido people there (wonderful group, they do a great job of connecting budo with nonviolence - www.thousandwaves.org ), on my way to a shiatsu conference near Milwaukee. Then home for a few days, then off to the Starwood Festival, that other pagan thing I go to each summer.

I feel in the past few years I'm making up all the travelling I never did in my youth. Slowly growing wings, or learning to use the ones I didn't realize I had. I begin to understand why, when the Taoist masters of old sought students, they waited in inns, looking for travelers whose minds were already being opened by the journey.

Karate news

Hello friends! As many of you know, for the past few months I've been training to test for my fourth degree black belt in karate.

I'm happy to say that last weekend, in an all-night test at the headquarters of the World Seido Karate Organization in New York, I completed that process and was promoted to yondan.

I want to thank all of you for your support over the years. Sometimes it all connects up in unexpected ways...a lesson on poetry pays off on the dojo floor; or some simple remark by a friend gives you the confidence you need to stick with it.

So thanks. (And I might actually have some free time now to get out and see some of you I haven't seen in a while! :-) )

-Tom
(now, "Sensei Tom" to his students :-) )

Chris Chandler at the New Deal Cafe, March 24

I've been a huge fan of the "folken word" of Chris Chandler since I saw him perform at College Park's "Planet X" coffeehouse back in the early 1990s. Chris has traveled the nation and worked with musicans and poets from Allen Ginsberg to Ani DiFranco and Pete Seeger to Mojo Nixon. (For those of you who know the work of Billy Jonas - Chris is credited as co-writer of Billy's wonderful song "God is In")

Chris now lives in Tacoma Park, and I'm happy to have helped introduce him to Greenbelt's fine fine venue, The New Deal Cafe. Chris will be playing there March 24 - you do NOT want to miss this! Spread the word!

note to Robin

Sharing a note I sent to Robin:

Hi Robin!

I see you did the Kerouac re-tattoo - outstanding!

I've started my nihongo class at the community college (AACC)...visions of hiragana dancing in my head.

It's a little strange being in a class with everyone else so much younger...and then the dialogs in the textbook are all college-y, "What's your major?" (Senmon wa nan desu ka?) and "What year are you?" (Nannensei desu ka?) sort of stuff.

New stuff at infamous.net

I've put up a new page for my music over at infamous.net.

(Why two sites, infamous.net and unreasonable.org? Partly historical reasons, my original intent years ago was to separate my professional from my personal/political site; but now infamous.net is my more static site, whereas I post ongoing updates and pointers to news stories here.)

The past few months my musical endeavors have started to pick up steam again, with a regular gig at Leadbetter's, and work starting on a CD of my original music - I go into the studio Friday.

Group purchase of BrowserCam membership

BrowserCam is a very cool service that allows you to obtain screenshots of web sites in a number of different browsers, so you can see what your site looks like to people using IE, Safari, Firefox, or Opera on different platforms. It is, however, on the spendy side - one day's access is $19.95. But, a year's access for a group of 10 people is $399.95 - this is originally intended for a company, but if you get 10 people together you can get a year's access for the price of one day.

People have been using Fundable.org to co-ordinate such group purchases. Here's one that I've joined.

Year ending, year beginning

Hello friends! Happy New Year!

It's been an interesting one here. For those of you I haven't seen in a while: my father had heart surgery this spring (to replace a bad valve), has recovered nicely. We finally settled my grandfather's estate, selling his house; an emotional burden resolved, and a financial resolution we needed (my father having been unable to work for a while, due to the surgery and the condition that necessitiated it). I felt 50 pounds lighter the day after we settled on that house.

This year I traveled to San Francisco for the AOBTA convention; Chicago for the 20th anniversay tournment for the Seido Karate branch there; and Osaka to see my friends Robin and Eric and, well, it's Japan, enough said! I'm now scheming if I might be able to get back to Japan for a longer stay.

With all the energy going into the family stuff, my shiatsu practice has been slow to start, but it is getting moving. (That website again, www.EarthTouchShiatsu.com...tell your friend with the stiff neck or the aching back...)

My music seems to be picking up some momentum, too. For those of you local, I'll be playing the first and third Wednesdays of the next few months at Leadbetters' in Fell's Point (selected Baltimore Magazine's "Best Dive Bar" 2005) from 4-8pm. I'm also looking at finally getting off my butt and recording a CD of my originals.

More from the "war on sharing"

Slashdot refers us to this BBC story about the Music Publishers' Association trying to shut down web sites with music lyrics and scores, including wanting to lock people in cages for sharing the words to songs.

Somehow, it all seems...familiar. Back in 1998, I was interviewed for a piece in the Baltimore Sun about an attack on OLGA, the on-line guitar archive, where musicians share their interpretations of songs, by the Harry Fox Agency.

Excuse me while I repeat myself: Music is not a crime. Music is all about sharing. Performers share with the audience and performers share with each other. That's the folk tradition. We now have a new technology of information that renders the old laws obsolete. We need laws that recognize that the sharing of information is what makes us human.

Osaka notes

Well, been back from Japan a few weeks now, hustling to make up lost
time at work. So again no updates for a while.

Japan was...wonderful. Again, I didn't want to leave; and I'm now
tentatively planning and plotting to go back for a longer stay, maybe six
months or a year.

It wouldn't be until next fall at the earliest, what with the big Seido Karate 30th Anniversary Saiten in June, and the AOBTA conference in July.

I don't know if I'll go through with it or not, but I am signed up for a
Japanese language class in the spring at Anne Arundel Community College.
(Have to go all the way to Arnold - I'm minutes from UMBC and Catonsville
campus of BCCC, but they don't offer the introductory Nihongo class next
semister...) And I'm looking at turning part of my house into an apartment
I can rent out to help cover the mortgage while I'm away. I figure these
are useful things to do regardless of whether I follow through on a longer
trip.

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