Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Holes

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I took my daughter to the Franklin Institute to see the Cleopatra exhibit. Our ticket included the Franklin Institute, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology and a planetarium show. The planetarium show my daughter wanted to see was about Black Holes.

My daughter has expressed interest in becoming a chef, a designer and a restaurant owner. She has notebooks full of sketches and a collection of cookbooks. She recently informed me that she wants to be an astrophysicist. Her college of choice is MIT.

Did I mention she is only eleven?

We only had a few minutes to race across the museum in order to see the planetarium show. She picked the perfect seat and sat down. Once the show started, she raised her fist in a manner reminiscent of a rock concert rather than a program about black holes. During the show, my daughter whispered commentary throughout the program. I thought the show was interesting but my daughter expressed disappointment in the lack of detail.

One particular term caught my attention. The event horizon is the boundary of the black hole. "Nothing inside the event horizon can ever cross the boundary and escape beyond it, including light. Thus, nothing that enters a black hole can get out or can be observed from outside the event horizon." The planetarium show illustrated this by depicting kayakers trying to paddle upstream to avoid an impending waterfall. There comes a time when there is no way out.

The term event horizon aptly describes this busy season at work. There have been so many problems...late product, manufacturing delays, reduced staffing, errors and discourteous customers. When I told one customer his shipment would be sent the next business day he yelled..."Do you know who I am?"

Tomorrow, we anticipate another product shortage. It is going to be a long day.

Thank you for bearing with my lack of posting and commenting. I walked into dojo tonight and one black belt asked "Do we know you?"

Hopefully, I will be recognizable soon! :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

It Would Be So Easy...

For the past month, I have been working a full time and 2 part-time jobs. My karate training has been non-existent. I can count on one hand the number of classes I taught in November. Thanksgiving Day marks the end of our busy season at work. I am starting to see the light at the end of the work tunnel.

It would be so easy NOT to resume regular karate practice. The holidays are fast approaching and I have a lot of catching up to do. I need to file eight weeks of paperwork, balance my checkbook (I am behind 2 months), post to write and cookies to bake. I would like to complete several half-finished projects at home. I look forward to getting more than five hours of sleep a night. I have December 1st circled on my calendar because my gym membership will restart after a three month hold.

It would be so easy to take a break from karate.

While I was contemplating extending my karate break, John Vesia's post about Making Time appeared in my Google Reader.

Everyone has a busy life. If you have a family, a career, and various responsibilities, life can indeed be a burdensome. It's easy to say "I don't have time to train with everything that's going on." And every time you let it go, it just gets easier and easier to say that. But if you can slip in just one training session a week, you'll be better off.

After reading his post, I realized I needed to start "showing up".

Thanks John! Your post was exactly what I needed to read.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Macho Men and Aggressive Driving

My car was pulled off the side of the road in a residential area. It was early morning and traffic was light. A large, loud truck was at the stop sign. I guess he did not like how I was parked. The truck waited a moment then accelerated towards my car and drove as close as possible to my vehicle. I did not know it at the time but the truck drove down the road and parked among a group of vehicles. After a few minutes, I continued down the street. The driver of the truck then pulled out from his parking spot and went speeding down the road. Was he waiting to see my reaction?

Science Daily reported on a study by Julie Langlois, a graduate student at the University of Montreal Department of Psychology, that determined "the more "macho" the man, the more risks he took on the road".

"Our hypothesis was that hyper-masculine drivers, often referred to as macho, were more likely to take risks in order to catch a car," says Langlois. "We didn't tell test subjects to disobey the law, yet they knew others had accomplished the same task in seven minutes."

Results of the car simulator exam highlighted men's slight tendency for risk. Still, it was during interviews that a link between macho men and speed revealed itself. "Previous studies had shown that hyper-masculine men were more aggressive on the road," says Langlois. "But we wanted to take it further."

"Some men develop a passion for driving that can verge on the obsessive," says Langlois. "They consider cars to be an extension of themselves and they become extremely aggressive if they are honked at or cut off."

The NHTSA "defines aggressive driving as occurring when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." In a recent four hour drive on the PA Turnpike, I witnessed multiple acts of aggressive driving. It was a busy weekend and people were frequently changing lanes, tailgating, failing to signal and driving at excessive speeds. Groups of cars appeared to be chasing each other as they weaved in and out of traffic. The drivers on this particular day were primarily male.

From Progressive Insurance: Road Rage Tips

Protect yourself.
If you are dealing with an aggressive driver, make sure your doors are locked. If you're stopped in traffic, leave enough room to pull out from behind the car you're following. If an aggressive driver confronts you, dial 911 or go to the nearest police station.

Don't take it personally.
Be polite and courteous, even if the other driver isn't. Avoid any conflict, if possible. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath and move out of the way! Never underestimate the other driver's capacity for causing mayhem.

Reduce your own stress.

Report aggressive drivers.
Some states have a phone number that you can use to

Be a courteous driver.
You can set the example, which can help make our roads safer.
Control your anger.
Don't take traffic problems personally.
Avoid making eye contact with an aggressive driver.
Don't make obscene gestures.
Don't tailgate.
Use your horn sparingly — even a polite honk can be misinterpreted.
Don't block the passing lane.
Don't block the right turn lane.

What do you think about the study cited in Science Daily?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quitting Karate - A Response

Over a year ago, I wrote the post "Should They Have Been Allowed to Quit?". This post received many comments and even prompted responses on others blogs. When I look at my site statistics, I am always surprised by the number of people searching for "quitting karate".

Last week, an anonymous commenter shared his story about karate and quitting. I want to share his response.

My Dad.
Once when I was a struggling Brown Belt, my dad came into my room and told me to get my uniform on, it was time to go to class. "I don't want to go anymore dad," I said.

"Ok," he replied, "Put your uniform on it's time to go to class."

"Dad, you didn't hear me, I said I don't want to go anymore," I answered.

"I heard you," he said with a smile, "put on your uniform, it's time to go.

He made me go. For at least a month, I begged, cried, pleaded, acted up and did everything I could to not go. After that month I realized that this was important enough to him, that I didn't have a choice. It's like eating my veggies, going to school, going to bed on time, doing my chores, taking my epilepsy medicine. Did I mention I was born with epilepsy?

I didn't know it, but the doctors had told my parents I probably wouldn't live past 30, either the seizures would kill me, or the medicine would destroy my kidneys.

Through my training I learned breath control and deep meditation. Through meditation, I learned to control my seizures. I am 46 years old, have two kids, 9 and 10, a wonderful wife and a career running my own school.

Through meditation I learned to control my seizures, I've not had a seizure or medicine treating them in over 20 years. I still feel my epilepsy, it's there, tingling on my right side, but I control it.

In that one moment, when my dad said, "Put on your uniform, it's time to go," he saved my life and insured the birth of his grandkids.

Think carefully about your decision to allow your kids to choose a destiny you have the wisdom to see, but they do not.

Everyday I see my father's wisdom, more and more.

Also, this is a good example of the butterfly effect.

Anonymous, thank you for sharing your story.