Ikeda throwing

Ikeda Shihan

Ikeda throwing

I have barely returned from the aikidō seminar in Mürren and there was another one, this week-end Ikeda Shihan was in Zürich. This was a very big seminar, with more that sixty people, it took place in one of the big gymnastic halls of the university.

The lessons were about some pretty subtle techniques, with a lot of work on breaking the balance of the partner, the level of mastery of Ikeda-sensei made it look like some parlour trick, but the face of the uke showed that were not faking it. While those techniques are extremely interesting, they are quite hard for me to reproduce, also because the seminar is short, with a lot of participants, you have little time to tune yourself with your partners. I sometimes had trouble connecting what some advanced people were doing with what the teacher showed. Beginners typically try to reproduce what is shown, but sometimes ranked people seem to do, not what the teacher showed, but what they think the technique ought to be, which ads some confusion

Still it was good to have someone explain the core ideas behind the techniques, and Ikeda-sensei did that with a lot of humour, which is good, because it is very easy to get bogged down by frustration as you are unable to do what he showed. The seminar was complemented by a nice party saturday evening, despite the pretty grey weather it was fun. The facebook page of the event has some photos. All in all an extremely interesting seminar, which really extended my perception of aikidō, but now I’m really tired.

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Maui & Sons ®

Maui & sons…

Maui & Sons ®

À l’époque où j’étais adolescent, et que la planche à voile était encore considéré comme une activité extrême de jeunes et les couleurs fluorescentes une bonne idée, la marque de vêtements Maui et son logo géométrique étaient considérés, dans mon cercle d’amis, comme l’épitomé du cool. Le temps à passé et j’ai complètement oublié cette marque.

Lors de mon dernier voyage en Serbie, j’ai acheté un nouveau maillot de main, pour découvrir qu’il était de cette marque. Le magasin où je l’avais acheté n’était pas tellement un endroit pour jeunes cool, plutôt un établissement bourgeois décontracté où les serbes peuvent rêver d’être des italiens élégants.

Les marques semblent évoluer et vieillir comme les personnes, s’embourgeoisant au fil des années, on les perds de vue, et un jour on les retrouve dans un autre pays…

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The Toaster Project or a heroic attempt to build a simple electric appliance from scratch

The Toaster Project

The Toaster Project or a heroic attempt to build a simple electric appliance from scratch

I had heard about the Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites, from some friend who actually had the seen the TED talk. Instead of just watching the talk, I bought the book. Both tell the story of a design student’s master project, which was to build a toaster from scratch; this meant mining the various raw material and refining them using equipment available to normal people.

I found it interesting that the project was undertaken by a person who is neither an engineer, nor someone involved in the maker mouvement, instead a student who would normally just draw the toaster in a CAD program.

The Toaster Project

Princeton Architectural Press
ISBN : 978-1-56898-997-6

As any engineer could tell you, this is a horribly complicated thing to do, and the resulting device is pretty rough. As often, the journey is more interesting than the result and Thomas discovers the complexity of building a cheap, everyday object. This quest gives us insights on the structure of production, industrialisation and the relationship between everyday persons and the goods they use and own.

The book is quite short (≈190 pages) with many illustrations, and is a really fun read which I recommend to everybody.

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Aikidō in Mürren 2014

Lauterbrunnen

Going to the aikidō seminar in Mürren with Cindy Hayashi and Roland Spitzbarth has been one of my most regular activity: I now have been every year since 2010; doing aikidō in the middle of the alps, with a breathtaking scenery.

This year, a third teacher participated to the seminar: Marcel Schriber, I think this resulted in a very balanced teaching, which I found way smoother than the previous year with Robert Nadeau, as each teacher integrated the course of the other ones. This year the semianar only lasted from Monday to Saturday morning, which was not a bad formula, as there was no interruption for touristic activities, this gave a more compact course. Of course, I ended up being very exhausted.

This year we were pretty lucky with the weather, which was sunny without being overly hot, so we often did the weapon training outside. On a platform used by base-jumpers to prepare themselves. Training with a wooden sword before breakfast seems like a very reasonable activity: we don’t wear go-pros.

It is always difficult to say what I exactly learn in those aikidō seminars, mostly it is an occasion to train more and with more advanced and dedicated people. I mostly notice that things that seems very hard last year are now just hard. Still I found the exercices on the energy levels, and the way we practice when we are tired very interesting. So were the rolls and warm up exercices, which are pretty different of what I do regularly in my dōjō.

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A thousand and one nights – a game of enticing stories

1001_nights

While I used to be very involved in roleplaying games, I have not really followed various trends, like for many others, the amount of time available has dwindled and I have reached some kind of local minima, a form of game that mostly works, typically using an old and flawed system which I know well.

Before leaving for Japan, I sold a large part of the gaming material I knew I would never used. The little gaming material I bought since, was mostly to get ideas for settings and scenarios, rarely did a used the game per se. Meanwhile I have been trying to go towards a more narrative solution, which is hard because among the players I have, many are not GM at heart, but I still try.

A thousand and one night by Meguey Baker is a small game I noticed somehow on the internet, I don’t remember who pointed me to it, but I ordered it. It is a nicely designed booklet that presents a game where people tell thousand and one night tales. The game is nicely written and the illustrations are beautiful (I tend to dislike illustrations in US games).

The gaming system is pretty simple, with players betting dices, on the outcome of actions, one key aspect of the game is that at any point in time, a character can start to tell a story, effectively becoming the GM within that sub-story. Maybe because the root narrator is the Sultan, this reminded me of the some free game I once read, where the GM is some omnipotent tyrant and the players are various conspirators – annoyingly I have forgotten the name of the game.

A thousand and one nights
a Game of Enticing stories


Night Sky Games

If you are looking for some reference about the period or the setting of the 1001 night tales, you won’t find much in this book, the game gives some hints on how to set the ambiance, dim lights, confortable seating and arabian food, but stays admirably vague about the setting. I partially understand this, as everybody knows the tales, and realism would get in the way, but it also felt very politically correct.

Did I like reading this book? Yes, will I play the game? probably not. As with many other games of the same time, I only see this work if I played with a group of experienced GMs, or maybe younger players. The book does not give many hints on how to bootstrap the process, how to get the story flowing. Somehow I feel this is yet another game that falls in the middle of the uncanny valley between classical RPG and narrative games like story dices.

All in all a nicely written game with good ideas which I can’t use.

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Barcode area of the album “Gare aux Gaffes du Gars Gonflé”

Primary Keys (6) – Old Keys

Barcode area of the album “Gare aux Gaffes du Gars Gonflé”

While the GTIN system was intended for logistic up until the point of sale, the emergence of marketplaces for second hand goods means that many products, and their codes, appear once again in system. As often with legacy data, this means the old assumptions still affect the new system.

French comic books used to be quite different from US comic books: different format (A4 typically), hard binding, they commonly had ISBN codes. Some popular series were sold in supermarkets, and thus had an EAN code, even before the mapping of ISBN into EAN codes.

One character I loved was Gaston Lagaffe, and I still have a few albums of 80s edition. They are interesting because each album bears an ISBN-10 number (no barcode), but also an EAN code, except all albums of the set have the same code: 5410983209003. The album Gare aux Gaffes du Gars Gonflé has ISBN-10 2-8001-0308-6, while Gala de Gaffes à Gogo has ISBN-10 2-8001-0093-1, both have the same EAN. If I search that code using the Red Laser application, I get another album: Le Cas Lagaffe.

ISBN 2800103086
ISBN 978-2-8001-0308-2

I can only hypothesise on why the publisher chose this scheme, in those days the selection of albums in supermarkets was pretty random, and the price of all of them the same, so it might well be that supermarkets would just handle those albums as minor variants of each others, i.e. the supermarket would buy a selection of them, but consider them all equal for inventory purposes. This is still the case for smaller toys, where items with different colours share the same code.

Of course, each book has an individual ISBN-10, and if I convert it into an ISBN-13 and then look for it, I get the correct results.

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