19 02 2012

After spending some 10 yrs putting myself through school, two degrees and several certificates I never thought I would be working seven jobs to survive on the year of filing for retirement . Life is full of these unexpected changes in fortune. Going from a fortune 500 job with my own office to working seven part time job and still struggling to get by.
So let’s see what the seven are:
Security guard – 20 hrs a week
Store clerk/ stock – 20 hrs a week
Sailing instructor – 12 -24 hrs a month
Asst Harbormaster – 32 hrs a month
Graphic designer – 10 hrs a month
Martial Art instructor – 3 hrs a week
Graphic instructor – 2.5 hrs a week

Out of 7 jobs only three give me satisfaction, my Graphic work with Aoki Yachts, teaching Kung Fu and teaching Sailing. The clerk/stocking job gives me great discounts on my boat stuff. It is though a fair amount of work at times . Lifting, climbing, walking Five hours…tired at the end of the day. It does make me have more respect for LZ she is at it eight hours doing retail, plus dealing with home stuff and me.   So almost half of my work gives me some lift. This is a blessing though, others have it worse, some have no job, no cars, no boat. In fact no roof over their head. So with seven job in hard times, my guardians are on the JOB. _/|\_

Having this jobs in tough times is a blessing however it does make it difficult to do anything else but work, eat, sleep in between. So far I am keeping it together. However I am not as productive on other projects, and time is creeping toward the cast off date.

Still with all this preparation as I look at the whole picture moving to Japan maybe the best thing for me. I see no real future here in the States.  Well unless I want to run a marine consignment store. Nothing wrong with that… but all those years of schooling down the tubes. Hmmm the Buddhist way, none attachment right. There is no past , no future only now.

I can not help but wonder what will life in Japan bring. We will have some base income from my retirement but I will still have to work to survive…and pay old bills. Hopefully less than here, and more fulfilling.  I have to maintain a vision to manifest. With some PT work with a band, teaching some Tai Chi, and maybe some boat chartering or something for Aoki Yachts we can live ok, and better if LZ can get some P/T work as well. We could have a fairly comfortable life.

I’m hopeful I do not have to work as much and can do some enjoyable stuff. Ceramics, sailing, exploring Japan, kyudo, photography, make music. I do not have big dreams these days. Just for some comfortable senior years would be nice. It should be an interesting story retiring to Japan at my age, few do it, and even fewer of my background…yosh!

The New Year begins…

18 01 2012

The NewYear is on!

I get a sense of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In another post ( never posted) I said it was the Universe’s job to provide me a source of money for our trip. Then out of no where, I was offered more hours at the job with Blue Pelican Marine. Enough that I could quit the much disliked security job. Really the same amount of hours as there,  but a little more money and no commute. I had at first planned on quiting…C-ya! However after some thought I have chosen to keep the security job for another four months or more. That will give me a couple of grand or more toward our trip. That would be worth the dislike of getting up at 3:45 in the COLD during the week and going to the JOB.

I have to say since I have been allowed access to the guard shack and I bring in my little space heater it is not so bad after I get to work. It is still cold and boring though but it is more comfortable. It also helpful to my attitude now that I can classify this job as extra help to leave the country and not just survival doing a dead end job. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

I have set the time here at four to six months, that will give me about 3,000 + toward the kitty. That is if I can pull this off. It maybe too much ! I’ll need to start getting to bed earlier that is for sure since I can not take a four hour nap once I get home from the early a.m. security job. I’ll have to ganbatte cause $3,000 -$4,000 would help a lot.

2011 – The last shot

4 01 2012

New Years Eve 2011, it was great I had off for the weekend. I did plan it that way and turned down some work with the sailing school that came up. I needed to have a break, so I took it.

New Years eve was the RSD’s 3rd annual 108 Ya New Year’s shoot.
I was up on the early side for a day off. However since we wanted to be ready to shoot at 10:00 it was needed for me to rise early if I wanted to follow the training I had in mind.

I was up at 7:30 not 7:00 as I planned. I got my Zazen in first, then found a spot just behind the Aikido dojo on the property, and did some Tai Chi and Qi gong. It was a little in the cool side however I was dressed for it.

My breakfast for the day which I had afterward wad lite since I had planned on a simple fast. I had four or so nuts and a green drink. Other than some green Tea that was to be my meal for the day until sundown.

I arrived at the Dojo a little late but it was cool since my Senpai were not ready yet as well. After setting up the heater,

chatting , dressing we made ready to shoot. We did not do the meditation and chanting this year, so I’m glad I got my morning drills in early before leaving home.

We selected on going 8 shots to a set. I borrowed a set of four from a Senpai and we had at it.

It had been a couple of months since I shot so I had a few concerns. My left hand would it hold up or get cramps like last year. My right shoulder had been painful for the last couple of weeks , would it hold up? Would all those unused muscles for a couple of months, be pissed off and revolt the next day.  I had the extra challenge of using mismatched Ya . So every two shoots I had to adapt the shoot to a different flying arrow. Four ya were bamboo and another four were aluminum. The bamboo were all one set and matched, they were borrowed. The aluminum were from two different sets since my set of four was not to be had due to a shipping malfunction from the past summer seminar, due to my lack of mindfulness and forgetting to bring home the ones I shot with for my test. I was too excited about passing.

I was not overly concerned about my hits but more mindful about my form and going the distance. I was very mindful of making sure all parts of the form were proper so as not to hurt myself it was to be a long day. My right hand had a bit if a problem. It felt a bit tingly when holding the ya. This was coming from my shoulder pain. I persevered and after a while the discomfort went away.

Most of my clusters looked good. Once I settled into shooting and adjusting to each pair of arrows I started working on my aim. With the San Dan test coming I need to start working more on hitting. I was averaging about one center shot per set, not bad but I need better for the test.

I was able to self correct some of the things I was slacking on. I still need work and practice but overall I did ok. Nothing to blog about, but ok.

We started about 11 and finish about 4:30 ish which include a couple of tea breaks. It was s good session for our final  108 as a group. Next year I should be on the way to Japan and one of the other two sempais will be relocated to the East Coast, so in a sense this was our last shot.

Akimashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

Gong Xi Fa Cha – the Metal Rabbit

13 02 2011

I’m a bit late wishing my few readers who follow the Chinese path Happy New Year.

As usual I attended two celebration gatherings. The first was with my Chan family group. We met at a member’s home and had a nice Shabu shabu type dinner. This year there were more of us. I was a bit surprised to see everyone. It was a light fun gathering.

Next up was my Kung Fu family. I was a bit disappointed only two students from my school came. Even after more had said they would, it was not a whole-hearted commitment so it was disappointing , but not a surprise.

There were three of us from my school, plus 4 other schools in attendance. Again larger than last year and much more food. Much more great food. I had three trips of food. Sugoi oishkatta! It is always nice to visit with this group. There were many I did not know, but good to see the ones I have known for many years.

Now the “Hare” year is hopping along fully. Not really much has changed, but plans are in motion and some are underway. I finished my 1st Sailing training on the CAT, and LZ has started her basic sailing…Yosh!

There is a Tai Hai for the Northern CA Kyudo group this Sunday, but I am not going I have an offer to work. I need the money more than I need the pictures.

I had the first interview with one of the three Zen priest/Martial Artist, the one who teaches Korean Style Zen and Wing Chun it was a nice visit with an old friend from the old Kung Fu school. As soon as I can transcribe the tape, make a video and post them it will be up, perhaps sometime next week. At least sometime soon for those who are interested.

I also have to start preparing our taxes that will not be pleasant. 😦     Oh well not everything in life is, all we can do is ganbaru, like with my job…yosh!

The Zen clan visits Japan…

16 02 2010


No it’s not that time yet… and…as much as I want to go, I’m losing my confidence on the trip. However that is another story… this is about our trip to Japan-town in S.F. for Valentine/Chinese New Year

I was up early yet again today, it started off as another foggy day. LZ wanted to go to J-town for a magazine sale they were having. Being the good husband that I am, I passed on going to LA to visit my Chan Shifu and took her to S.F. Interestingly the toll taker on the Bay Bridge says to LZ you have a good husband, be sure to love him. He did say the same to me about her, but it said it about me first 🙂

Before we left I was getting a major ear full form M3 on how many corrections I need to do to my Tai Hai from to be ready for Japan, and not just fail right off the bat…sigh. Disheartening, That is yet another story.

This story is about our day trip to SF and could be called “the Problem of having a Japanese wife” or more exact. The problem of “Having a Japanese Wife Who Can Cook and Likes Good Food”. However that is too long a title. I’ll get to that shortly…

We head out to J-town, I’m told we need to be there by 11:30 or she will miss all the good books. I rush, We get there at 11:25 even with finding parking.

I put LZ in front of the bookstore, park and come back. She is calling me on the phone. Huh?? Why are you here? She says I was looking for you. Why are you not inside for the sale…

Come to find out she told me 11:30 but it is really 12:00 so she would not be late… (*_*)

Ok, no biggie, we hang out,  I check out a few stores, paper, incense, antiques…

LZ waits…

I check an Origami display, with some amazing stuff…

She waits…

Finally the mags are out…

I come back she is shopping then loads me down with the heavy mags while she looks for more…

The is another guy standing there doing the same, waiting for his woman. I say to him; guess we are the delegated shopping carts ne! He laughs as we share a male bonding moment.

Ok, done, now we look for a place to eat lunch, cheap but good. She has one place in mind, I’m not all for it so much. I say the place we usually go has another store on the other side of the mall. Someone told me was better…

She had her doubts and said who… An American? Hmmmmm, I do not recall; I reply.

Hmmmm she says, I do not think it will be so good and gives me the run down. Ok, we go there anyway…

Price is cheaper, I’m pleased there, …smaller place… she says not many Japanese. I think hmmm

We order what we generally get instead of something new, so we can compare. While we wait, I get the run down again about a branch store with the same name…

The food finally comes, she looks and says smaller portions, yup I agree.  The tuna cut does not look as good as the main place I notice. She comments on the look of the rice and the arrangement of the items in the my soup… It should be “this” way, not “that” way.

We taste… Ma ma. eatable, but not great. both dishes. My noodles not quite right. Her tempura, too oily, my soy bean cake, too sweet,  the rice, too hard, green tea weak. Sigh. it was disappointing.

So why is this a problem with having a Japanese wife. The reason is one learns what good Japanese food taste like, and get spoiled. One can tell the poorer taste right away, sometimes even just by looking…

One no longer can go to just anyplace and enjoy a good meal, the bar is raised, so you have to seek out quality food places. Of course you have to be grateful, in just being able to have food, but when you spend for it, going out, more so with limited money, you want it to be so good in taste it makes you cry. Not because you paid for something you could have made better at home.

So it was a two lesson day:

1. I need a lot more Tai Hai work

2. DO Not go to that restaurant again. Yosh!

Make that three lessons:

3. The main store is always best.

Ok, four… Make that four lessons:

4. Do not forget the Ichiban rule :  The wife is always right

Blog a grout…

14 02 2010

And now for something completely different…

You are wondering, why does Zen have a picture of men’s urinals on his blog. Well my inquisitive minded friend (s) this is what it is a grout.

This is the men’s room at one of the Halls at UC Berkeley. We have our East Bay Chan ( Zen) Group meetings here. Well not HERE in the Loo, but in this building. This Loo is on the 3rd floor.

It looks like a plain Urinal wall from a far, but up close are examples of the wit of the future leaders of America. In between the tiles written in the grout are re-grouted saying such as…

It’s a grout time…

I’m coming grout…

To grout or not to grout…

Grout of the closet…

Grout me in…

The Grout depression…

Grout cho marx

I thought it would be something different to blog a Grout 🙂

…and now back to our regular programing

The 1st bash of the yr…Mantis abound

3 01 2010

I had at first thought ok this is the last of the party events for 2009. However, my thought patterns changed, because it is all in perspective and that was indeed wrong and living in the past. This the first of the year’s party events, yeah that the ticket. It’s 2010 let’s get busy…onward!

I headed out to Walnut Creek, to the Tai Chi Mantis School there. It was the first New Year’s Celebration of the new decade. I arrived 1 hour later than the party was listed to start. There was still only a few people there. I was pleased to see my clan represented by a student and a former student his wife to be. The rest were WC’s school except for one Sihing from San Jose and another from Hawaii, although he does not live there, he lives out here. Ok, Let’s change that, he is from South Bay, that’s better. So there are 4 school in attendence when I arrived.

Chit chat chit chat, blah , blah, the usual stuff. Even some talk of Kyudo since B- Shing had seen my picture on Facebook doing Kyudo. For the most part we hung out by the grill , then inside etc, waiting for Sisuk to show up.

Little by little more folks came in, after a while there was a pretty good size group. Many of whom I did not know. Well, except for the seniors of course. There was lots of food. Even a few things that I could eat, like the Salmon that was grilled. It was BTW sugoi OISHI, oops, sorry Chinese talk now , it was Hao Chr!

I got to catch up on misc things, with the Walnut Creek group and even made a few connection for perhaps some future web and or design work. The South Bay group I already knew what was up with them as I had already seen them not to long ago or heard of the local news when I was at Sifu’s.

It is proper to wait for the Elder / School head, in this case Sisuk to arrive before eating. However we got the ok to get started as he and the Simo were running late.

My other Sihing from Campbell showed up. Now we are  five schools. Shortly after that Sisuk arrived. One can always tell when he arrives, His chi is so strong, a very powerful presence, and he is kind of loud, but in a good way. 🙂

Now the food and drink ready started to flow. Everyone was enjoying themselves. I had several helpings of Salmon and a couple of salad. A just a little on dessert and wine as I am watching my sugar intake and driving.

It was interesting looking over the old pictures on the wall from the past events, seminars and demos the school did and how we have changed, grown up and those missing over the years. I’ve been training with this group for more or less the last 15 yrs. It will be weird living in Japan away from this family.

Life indeed is a trip in more ways than one.

A day in the Life – Gong Xi Fa Chai – 09′

26 01 2009

Earlier in the afternoon that day, my elder Kung fu brother called. He had just returned from Canada doing a seminar there in Toranto. We had a nice talk catching up on things. We also had a good laugh that he is considered a Grandmaster now and given much respect. Not that he is not worthy of it but just he does not take it so seriously as his followers. He has zero ego about it, and feels he is not old enough or together enough to be Grandmaster. Now I do have a younger classmate/student who has a huge ego. He has given himself a Dharma Master name and calls himself a Buddha. He’s skills are also not that good. Anyway I digress.  Back to my senior brother, he still sees himself as bumbling through things at times and tripping over his own feet and bang himself up with weapons when practicing. However he understands the linage thing and blames me for it in a way. I am the serious SiSuk (Uncle) who came down on his senior student for not following traditional protocol in addressing a senior Kung Fu family member.  I now have this rep among his linage of the hard-nose traditional uncle. heheh, kind of funny. I am pretty casual with my students, but I will come down on my classmates students for not following protocol. Then to I would have no problem with my classmates coming down on my students the same way. In fact I would expect it. When training with my former Shifu, we were very casual among ourselves. There was no tradition followed other than addressing Shifu. Since being involved with the Federation schools were there is more traditional manners, I push that more so not let the tradition die in this new age of diminishing respect. As Sisuk says training in Kung Fu is more that just learning moves, it is learning and carrying on tradition. Otherwise one might as well go to a gym. I have become him. H my brother, says I have a certain mystic among his students, which he encourages, we both laughed.


He told me of his upcoming nomination for something like the Nobel Prize, because of his development of his 9 Psalms Mantis style ( http://www.blackbeltmag.com/archives/245 ) and Sacred Geometry Movement how it connects on a atomic level to Quantum Physics and his entry into the Black Belt hall of fame or something like that. I was impressed and pleased for him. Not only on his achievements but his spiritual humility on things and philosophy. He says it is all about love and energy. He is pleased also about the complete opposite view of his Shang Mountain Mantis from the UFC mentality. He is one of the few people that see Shaolin as being about love and not all about violence. Also totally not against his Christian background or beliefs. It was a good way to start the afternoon chatting with him out of the blue.

Sat was not really Chinese New Year it was in fact New Year’s eve’s eve. No matter it was close enough that many were out in Chinatown for dinner. A lot of places were packed.


Ling Sisuk  invited LZ and  I to Chinese New Year Dinner. I had thought that he was taking his senior students from the school along as well. As it turns out it was only his family for the most part. Wife, brothers, their wives, his son in law, wife kids, etc. Only the immediate family it gave us much face to be invited with the group.  We ended up going to the restaurant where the Federation usually has our banquet. Sisuk is friends with the owner, very good friends I found out. The restaurant was packed, we had a private room where usually only the owners eats. LZ and I came with Sisuk and only Simo and Sisuk’s main employee the photographer were there. Simo went out for a bit, and just the 4 of us were there. One of the daughter inlaws came in I had not met here before. It is usually kind of funny to me to see the expressions of confusion when someone who does not know me sees me in a place with only Chinese are generally. Then if I say something in Chinese, they really are taken back. hahahah 🙂

Little by little everyone showed up. LZ and I were the only non-Chinese there. Having been in the same environment with the Chan group it was no big deal to me and I think she is also comfortable with it now. Then anyway she is use to being the only Japanese in the group most of the time and I am always as usual the only minority, so do not even give it a thought. Together we make up our own minority group the Blasian couple. Another reason it is nice to hang with the Tokyo Delegation we make our own clan.

The food started to arrive. Simo had made special request for something for me since I did not eat most of the things prepared. Item after item arrived, I had to still wait, she apologized and everyone said they felt bad, but I was fine, I’m used to it. I got to nibble on a few things, peanuts, ginger, rice until my dish arrived, some Chinese greens and Tofu with some pea pods. It was good, shortly some fish and tofu came for everyone. I was good to go from there. Simo supervised everyone and made sure I had enough to eat and take home.  She is great, very motherly.

We had the standard warm sweet beans for dessert. It was not my favorite years ago, it is still not, but I have gotten use to it. Then we were served something I had never had. some mango pudding , and some little gelaten like thingys. some were coconut with yellow bean, some were mint tasting with coconut and one was something else I forgot. I had never had them or saw them in a Chinese resturant. I asked Sisuk if they were something special for the Chinese New year like the Tea we were having was only served at New Year. He said no, it was not a New Year thing, it was served just for us. It is a special item but not just for NY. It was good! Sweet but not too sweet and nice flavor.


Most of the topics at the table was about Photography, food, some business and the economy of course. SiSuk said there are thousands of factories closing in China and hundreds of thousands are being put out of work. We as a planet are truly interdependent these days. This was with us here in the States as the world largest consumers more or less driving the world markets. We stop spending everywhere hurts.

He also told me very quietly how much it cost him to go training Tai Chi in Hong Kong over the Christmas Holiday, thousands of dollars, with the classes, hotel food and the like I think he said about 30,000, maybe that was hong kong dollars, still Whoa!!

LZ and I before going to the dinner stopped and looked at an apt in the town we want to move to. Wow perfect , well nearly perfect the club house was small not a place for me to have class, but there is a large park nearby that has several lighted tennis courts at night. The apt was great all remodelled, stone counters, real fireplace, balcony with a view of S.F. and the S.F. Bay and reduced in price to the top of the range we were looking for mostly.


Now I need to figure out, should I take the gamble and ( try to ) go for it with no job perse, or wait perhaps miss the chance, and trust that something as good or more better for us will come. Or that I will indeed find the work I need ( not perhaps even want but need). Or stay here paying nothing until we can not. Jheez more pressure, just what I need. Sometime it is good to have that pressure it makes one do something. Somewhat like attending class with Sifu or Sisuk because you HAVE to train. Time for Prayer, Mediation, I-ching and maybe a psychic


“Survival, only the strong can survive”… grand master flash