Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Updated contact info

I recently switched from Comcast to SBC so I could get DSL. To get the best rate, I had to also change my phone number from a business line to residential. Comcast only forwards the new number for 30 days unless a fee is paid, in which case they will do it for an additional 30 days.

I paid the fee. It took them nearly a week to get the message up and running, and at the end of 30 days they promptly discontinued it. Forget trying to get them to respond to a repair ticket; it's useless.

Hey Comcast, if any of you reads this, maybe you can think about your customer service!

Anyway, during this past week I've had several people email me (or in the case of local businesses, just tell me when I walked in) that they couldn't reach me and there was no new number given, so here it is: (510) 222-0332

The Tao of Kinetic Energy and Cabales Serrada

This piece was written by Sifu Michael Trimble,
"Kali-San Soo Ranch" Ashland, Oregon,
and posted here with his permission.


Kinetic energy is the energy of motion, like Cabales Serrada. Think
about it. Every dynamic body possesses Kinetic energy. Power, by definition,is the rate of doing work per unit time. For practical and applicable purposes of Cabales Serrada, we can interchange power and kinetic energy as far as the end results of our actions. Both involve work (Force) against another physical body, with or without a weapon, in the form of collision or impact.

Mathematically, Kinetic energy is expressed as KE=1/2 mv2. Varying mass or velocity increases KE in different proportions:

KE=1/2(16) (2) 2 = (8) (4) = 32 (Increasing mass)
KE=1/2(2) (16) 2 = (1) (256) = 256 (Increasing velocity)

As illustrated, when mass is doubled, KE (power)doubles
proportionately. This KE is delivered in the form of heat dissipated
and absorbed by the receiving body.

When velocity doubles, power delivered quadruples. Every time
velocity doubles, kinetic energy increases by one power of ten,
making velocity and power a logarithmic proportion. In short,
doubled mass doubles power. Doubled velocity quardruples power. Energy absorbed at impact is four (4) times greater with doubled velocity, even with constant mass. Speed, over mass,is power.


Here is the full math, for those inclined to crunch the numbers, as forwarded and updated by Sifu Trimble:

Mathematically, Kinetic energy is expressed as KE=1/2 mv2

Increasing Mass:

KE=1/2 mv2
=1/2(2) (2)2
=(1) (4)=4

KE=1/2(4) (2)2
= (2) (4)

KE=1/2(8) (2)2
=(4) (4)

KE=1/2(16) (2)2
=(8) (4)

Increasing Velocity:

KE=1/2(m) (v)2
=1/2 (2) (2)2
=(1) (4)=4

KE=1/2(2) (4)2
=(1) (16)=16

KE=1/2(2) (8)2
=(1) (64)

KE=1/2(2) (16)2
=(1) (256)

As illustrated, when mass is doubled, KE (power) doubles proportionately. This KE is delivered in the form of heat dissipated and absorbed by the receiving body.

Sifu Michael Trimble

Friday, October 14, 2005

Body alignment

A colleague of mine, Khalid Khan, recently wrote how many people run with poor postural alignment, and how they should pay more attention to this. On the surface, he is correct, and to the extent that people notice bad habits they should do what they can to correct them.

On the other hand, most people have no idea if, or how much, their body is out of alignment. We tend to compensate unconsciously for imbalances that occur for any of a variety of reasons, including accidents, internal disorders, congenital conditions, poor postural habits and adaptation to incorrect ergonomics at work, etc. As someone who has undergone chiropractic care after minor auto accidents, it's amazing to me how hard the body fights to regain that sense of equilibrium adapted to misalignment, rather than simply re-establishing conformity to proper realignment.

I agree it is often obvious when watching runners that they have alignment problems, but this is not simply a matter of willful disregard of proper form. For instance, someone with a bad back may feel less pain working around the area of injury, resulting in a lower shoulder, rotated hip, etc. Attempting to straighten up will feel unnatural. Eventually this person may wind up with a sore knee, but that is a symptom, not a cause.

Another consideration is shoes. Poorly designed or mis-fitting shoes can cause problems all on their own. Smart runners will take the time and spend the money for the shoe that best fits their foot, but that can be both time consuming and expensive, especially nowadays.

Even the best runners have idiosyncrasies in their movement, and trying to correct that does not necessarily improve their running. I ran competitively for 5 years (best personal times: 2:00 half mile, 4:24 mile, 9:45 two mile) and I got to see the postures of a lot of faster runners. Some things can be corrected, such as learning more efficient arm swing and focusing the gaze to minimize head movement. None of these, however, have much effect on basic underlying postural alignment.

Furthermore, attempts to completely balance the body have been known to have negative impacts on competitive athletes. One example was the unexpected impact of rolfing on professional ballet dancers in the 1960's, which ended some promising careers. Even a top athlete like Bruce Lee had one leg that was shorter than the other. We learn to use the body we have, and changing its structure can erase muscle memory and cause proprioceptive conflicts that inhibit best performance.

One problem distance runners have is their leg muscles get tight which shortens them. Stretching helps, but most people don't do more than basic loosening up, and over time they adaptively lose range of motion. This in turn moves stress up the line to affect other body parts, such tight legs impinging on the back. Many people don't know how to stretch correctly anyway. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury, and how many runners understand the value of warming down properly, or are able to even take time to do so if they are running on lunch break or elsewhere in a busy schedule?

So, with all these considerations, how does one simply stop running poorly? A professional athlete may have a support team of a chiropractor, trainer, massage therapist, nutritionist. They may use video of their movement to identify correctable problems. None of these are readily available to most individuals, for whom activities such as running, martial arts or dance are an adjunct to a lifestyle, not a goal unto itself.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Larry Wright: Street Drumming to the Max!

Larry Wright online video

Larry Wright is an incredibly electrifying drummer, a force of nature. He is a bucket drummer who makes a good living playing in the subways in NYC. At age 2 he was already hitting things; at 5 he discovered his instrument, learning to get more sound out of a bucket than most drummers with a full kit. He was discovered in 1990 at age 15 by two filmmakers, and their 30 minute documentary about him aired on PBS. I was blown away when I saw it back then. He would compare and demonstrate variations from Santeria to Yoruba sacred drumming, as if channeled through jazz legend Lenny White. Since then he's appeared in commercials (Ford, etc) and movies (the opening of The Believers, for example) and in Alicia Key's "Karma" video. This kid is so hot, legendary drummer Gene Krupa went to meet him.

Watch his sticks; identify the fulcrum point, then think of the short strokes of Serrada.
Notice they don't come back too far, moving from vertical to horizontal with great precision.
See how relaxed his wrists are.
Same for his shoulders. Notice his upper arms hang naturally.
His concentration is complete. He has full control of speed, power, tempo and rythm.

How would you move to these rhythms?