Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Claw

Mirror 001
Originally uploaded by mikemull
I was goofing around with my Canon, taking flash pictures in the mirror in my living room. When i looked at this one it freaked me out, because there was this bizarre claw-like image centered almost directly on my shirt. Being a skeptical sort i did not immediately assume that i had capture some angry poltergeist, but i didn't really know what caused it.

Upon closer inspection it turned out that one of my kids (or one of his friends) had placed their hand against the mirror and had created this identical pattern on the surface. I'm not sure if the flash reflected the image back at me, or if it was partially absorbed, or whatever. I'm thinking about having this silk-screened on a shirt.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Guitar Lounge

Guitar Lounge 1
Originally uploaded by mikemull
I kind of like this photo. The interesting thing is that it's not posed-- this is just what the room looked like when i walked in. Nathan and his friend Won Ji were trying to record stuff, and they just happened to be using the furniture as guitar stands (that's Henry on the couch with the guitars, watching Spongebob).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

TransRockies Run

I and my friend and former kung fu instructor (who i'll just refer to as Mr. P) were hoping to make a trip to hike the Machu Picchu trail this year, but the timing just isn't working out. Instead, we're going to do the TransRockies run, a 6-day two-person team race through the Colorado Rockies. Under normal circumstances it would be a fairly hard event-- 125 miles in 6 days-- but the fact that it's all at 8000 to 12000 feet and i have to sleep in a tent makes it a true adventure. The altitude concerns me, especially Stage 2, which peaks at 12536 feet. Based on past experience, that's gonna be a wind-sucking slog.

This also means i've got to get my running mileage up quicker than i anticipated. The longest leg is only about 24 miles, but the hills and elevation changes are brutal. I also need to drop at least 5 pounds and work on my leg strength. All in all though i'm really psyched. It's been years since i've spent much time in the Rockies and Mr. P and i had a great time on our last adventure race.

We're also going to run under the name of my friend Cathy's business, Pristine Planet. It gave us a team name and, i hope, will get Pristine Planet some attention from the no-doubt environmentally conscious fellow competitors.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Late For The Sky

This is one of Jackson Browne's best songs in my opinion, but it's hard to listen to. It's a beautiful melody, but the lyrics are like a punch in the stomach.

The words had all been spoken
And somehow the feeling still wasnt right
And still we continued on through the night
Tracing our steps from the beginning
Until they vanished into the air
Trying to understand how our lives has led us there

Looking hard into your eyes
There was nobody Id ever known
Such an empty surprise to feel so alone

Now for me some words come easy
But I know that they dont mean that much
Compared with the things that are said when lovers touch
You never knew what I loved in you
I dont know what you loved in me
Maybe the picture of somebody you were hoping I might be

Awake again I cant pretend and I know Im alone
And close to the end of the feeling weve known

How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been dreaming I could make it right
If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might
To be the one you need

Awake again I cant pretend and I know Im alone
And close to the end of the feeling weve known

How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been running for that morning flight
Through the whispered promises and the changing light
Of the bed where we both lie
Late for the sky

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ten-Lined June Beetle

Found one of these on the floor of the car:

Image from:

Back on the Run

A couple of weeks ago i did a leisurely run around Coronado Island with my former martial arts instructor. God, it felt so good. I took off a few months from running to try to fix the chronic bursitis in my left hip. It didn't help much, probably because i needed to stop all activity, which, as the world's oldest hyperkinetic, i couldn't do even if i wanted to. Although i've decided that i won't run a marathon this year, i'm going to start running consistently again. I can't really explain why i need to run, especially to the majority of people who regard it as a punishment of sorts, but at this stage of my life it's as much a psychological balm as it is exercise. It helps me sleep, it helps me structure my life, and it's comforting to know that what you get from running is directly proportional to what you commit to it.

This'll be the first year since 2002 that i haven't run a marathon (and the first since 2004 that i haven't run at least two marathons). In some ways it's tempting to call it a career and focus on other activities, but i still have that sub 3-hour goal hanging out there. The 3:02 i ran at last year's Carlsbad marathon convinced me that it was well within my reach, but i'm not quite ready to jump back into 70-mile weeks and 5am runs. I also have it in the back of my head to do Western States one of these days, but since i haven't even done a 50-miler yet, i've got a lot of work to do before i'm ready for 100 miles in the mountains.

I'd also like to run Boston again, i'd like to do LA, London, and maybe the Marine Corps marathon for good measure. So, yeah, i still have a lot of running to get out my system.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Family Farm

[This is a poem i wrote many, many years ago about the place i grew up]

This place is something I know
something without abstraction that I can
comprehend with only
my eyes.

This thing, a low flat sheet of rough cement that
casts no shadow from the dull light of this sky,
an island of man-made rock amidst mud and thriving weeds.
Structures like these, places like this, leave behind
remnants not ruins.

This is the complete absence of mystery,
the complete knowledge of a place,
a rectangle, cement, and patches of rust,
followed by furrows, nearly straight,
plowed, dirt turned by the
same man.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


When i was a freshman in college i spent a couple of years studying the Hung Gar form of kung fu with a grad student named Aaron Chen. I really loved it, but when Sifu Chen returned to China i didn't seek opportunities to continue. I always wanted to pick it back up, but life intervened. Being primarily interested in Chinese martial arts, it was also harder to find a convenient school, at least compared to the ubiquitous karate and tae kwon do schools.

Flash forward almost twenty years to the start of my midlife crisis. Since i've always been slightly kinesthetic, i figured i needed some sort of skill sport to balance my obsession with endurance sports. As luck would have it, a Chinese martial arts school had opened not far from where i was working at the time. It was not Hung Gar, but it was another southern style called Choy Li Fut. It took me a while, but i finally took off a lunch hour and went over to check it out.

I had some skepticism of an established school like this at first. Sifu Chen had no ranking system. He didn't even have a school-- we just practiced on the school commons or in the gyms. Soon though i was won over, mostly by the skill of the new school's chief instructor, Sifu Ming Lau. There's an Arthur C. Clark quote that goes "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". I would say the same about sufficiently advanced physical skill. Sifu Lau, like Sifu Chen, could do things that seemed superhuman. It would be years before i would see the breadth of his abilities, but the depth was quickly apparent.

Not quite six years later i've finally managed to advance through all of the basic ranks to achieve my black sash at that school, White Dragon of Mira Mesa. The significance of this black belt status is hard to explain to somebody on the outside of the system. The popular notion of the black belt, i think, is of reaching the pinnacle of a martial system. In our school the black belt conveys some of that and it is the goal of most students when they start. Most people who reach that level are also pretty fit and pretty capable of defending themselves. However, it also implies mastery of only the basics, and it signifies a sort of transition where you have to decide if you will incorporate the martial arts into your life permanently. Although there are advanced tests, it's not really about levels any more. What's left to a person at this point is only to get better-- in short what's left is kung fu.

Although i've got a long way to go to become truly adept, i have to admit that this is one of the more satisfying accomplishments of my adult life. It's not something that i'm naturally gifted at and i had to train pretty consistently for a fairly long time to get to this point. Unlike running marathons there is no age-group standard to measure myself against, so as the years passed i had to work harder to do things that would have been easy for my twenty-something self. The irony is that by the time you reach this point you come to realize that the levels and goals are less meaningful than the process. For me at least, i just love the motion and the contact and the sense of purpose that i get from the martial arts.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Demeanors at Epicentre, June 6

My kid's band plays at the Epicentre in Mira Mesa on June 6th.

Image by TikiThomas.