Term’s almost over; one final left. Research reached a nice finishing point this week; I finished the comparative Lyapunov analysis and prepared the graphs for submission. Noise really kills the linearity we’re looking for, but it does suggest an experimentalist will see some unexpected things, which is what the original paper tried to show with power spectra–and moreover, the figures are in the right ballpark for More on that when we draft a response to PRL.

Tested for 2nd kyu this week. It was tough–especially remembering the right vs. left distinctions for techniques that sound very similar in Japanese! Mechanically things felt pretty solid, though, which was nice. I was even able to clear 3 feet on jumping-over-partner, which was a great feeling. Plus, the front strike continuation is just plain awesome.

Other than that, planning a second book, which will explore the various off-limits parts of Carleton, getting ready for Comps, and starting the post-graduation job search. Now, back to that last paper!

After six months, I’ve finally tested for pre-third kyu. Sophie was amazing, practicing techniques endlessly, putting up with hundreds of bad throws, and smiling through it all. Thanks to good teachers and hard work, the test went beautifully. I’m really happy about the whole thing: techniques feel more natural, timing comes easier, and now that it’s over, I can take more time to work with beginners! There are a couple of new students who are putting in a lot of hard work, and I’m really excited about how fast they’re learning. I hope some stay!

Being treasurer has been an adventure this term. I finally got the budget figured out… kind of… and then the test came! Proofreading all the paperwork then accounting for various fees and forms took several hours last night, but I think it’s finally in order. Now that I’ve fumbled my way through this test, I think the next ones are going to go a lot better.

The physics ultimate team, Physbee, is still undefeated! The last few games have been spectacular: playing an hour before dusk, the light rolls over the clouds and sweeps over the whole campus. I wish I had real shoes, though: much as I love my hiking boots, they are not the best for sprinting. ;-) Maybe I’ll try and get some this weekend.

Wow, that was a good weekend. I’m sore, and twisted my toe on the wrestling mats, but learned a lot. It was fun to be exposed to so many new techniques: all-direction step-in-thrust, a rotating takedown from side strike, and an opposite-hand variant of the fourth-kyu 180-degree pivot shuffle cross-step-under initiation. There was even koryu buki study, and some calligraphy practice! The demonstration itself went well too, although we didn’t get to go through all six techniques.

I was happily surprised to see David-sensei and a bunch of other friends from the Portland club at the Genyokan. I miss those guys out here, so getting to work with them for three days was a nice reunion. Looking forward to getting back for summer, and having class with all of them again.

After being sick, it was nice to get back to doing all three classes, and then conditioning the next day. I’ve started to work on jump-backs with Nik and Sophie, and also jumping over partner. It’s definitely difficult, but I’m hopeful they’ll get easier.

The weekend was pretty darn awesome. Sophie and her housemates invited Nik, Max, Rachel, Anna, and I to dinner, where they’d made tons of delicious Jewish food. There was salad, fresh-baked bread, delicious kugel, and a massive roast with carrots and other veggies… it was *soooo* tasty! After weeks of Sodexho, getting to have a real meal with good company made my day. Max and I washed the dishes, and after we hung out on the couches, studying and watching Grey’s Anatomy.

The two tests from Monday’s classes went okay–I was definitely more confused by the EM material than Partials. Of course, the Partials test didn’t actually ask us to solve any PDEs, and that’s the part of the course I totally don’t understand yet, so I got off easy. Seeing the unusual connections between function spaces and Linear Algebra is mind-bending at times.

This weekend is the Genyokan trip! Ten of us are packing into Sophie’s car and Joel-sensei’s van, and driving up to Ann Arbor for the weekend. Unfortunately, we’re leaving Thursday night, so I’ve got to get all of Friday’s HW done by then. There’ll be classes, clinics, and the demo, which we’ve been preparing for every class of the last two weeks. I’m really looking forward to going–I didn’t make the trip last year, so this will be my first time.

To sum up the last term:

I took three classes: Ordinary Differential Equations, Japanese 205, and Classical/Computational Mechanics, affectionately (though with a thin edge of nervousness) referred to by many physics majors as “Classy” and “Compy”. These last two ate me alive: the average weekly problem set was 18 hours in length, although one went up to 25 hours. I spent a lot of mornings (9:00 P.M. – 3:00 A.M.) in Olin, the physics building, staring at Mathematica and struggling through Lagrangians. “You know, the windmill is really pretty at sunrise,” my friend Max told me. “You can see it through the windows of the Olin hallway.”

The last two weeks of the term were consumed by a massive final project: building and modeling a tinkertoy siege engine with the use of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics. My partner and I wrote hundreds of lines of code, and dozens of pages of equations, trying to model the energy transfer between the pendulum falling and the motion of the wheeled base. The problem consumed my life; walking to dinner, waiting in line, even in other classes, I’d think about drag models, wheel inertia, and projectile efficiency. We worked somewhere around 60 hours per person over two weeks.

Classes haven’t killed me yet!

It’s eighth week, and time for overdrive. Two take-home finals (one expected to take two weeks!), an ODE lab, an 80 hour final project for Computational Mechanics analyzing the dynamics of our tinkertoy siege engines, and all the regular Japanese and ODE coursework on top of that. Of course, this can only mean one thing: it’s time to take harder classes.

So I’m registering (hopefully) for Partials, Electricity and Magnetism, and some mysterious third course. I’m thinking about Epistemology or Philosophy of Physics, although those courses fill pretty darn fast. Philosophy of Physics looks particularly awesome, talking about issues with non-locality, causality, and the far-out world of quantum. Only a few spaces left, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.

To celebrate the end of the year's training, we did many breakfalls last night. David-sensei informed me that our absolute maximum (read: his) goal was 1500, but people were free to set whatever number they wanted to reach. I conservatively estimated 100, but ended up doing 1007: a mix of of rolls and back-breakfalls, both from throws and in sets. It took roughly five hours, at the end of which I was quite sore, but very happy.

We had a windstorm arrive Thursday night as well, which led to downed trees, hundreds of thousands of homes without power, and terrific rains. That made for an entertaining landscape for the ride home, as I passed trees snapped over concrete soundwalls, and biked over acres of branches floating in 2 inches of water. My map claims these waterways are "streets", but I think they are happier as streams.

Today was my first day at the new dojo; after three weeks without training I was excited to get back into things. It’s a bit of a trip to get there–about one and a half hours by bike and light rail, but it was well worth it. I hope to make it out there three times a week.

A few things were different–stretching followed different patterns, white/black belts only, and a second bow for entering the mat, in a different direction… I haven’t figured out that one yet. However, the rest of the class went smoothly, and was a great experience. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly, worked hard, and there was very good energy. At the end I was asked to lead stretches, which was somewhat unexpected, because I had never seen these exercises before! I managed to make it through the whole series, but it was definitely an exciting experience.

One thing was mentioned at the end of class which quite surprised me: apparently Akira-sensei is coming here in a few weeks! I guess I’ll be training hard. :-)

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