Sunday, June 25, 2006

I now have a contract

The job has officially signed me up for the duration of my stay. And, to be perfectly honest, they are overpaying me. I'd do the job for the cost of bus fare, which would be nothing since I usually ride with my father. Still, the money is nice and it does provide some additional incentive to deliver.

As far as what I'll be doing, my primary responsibilities are to the fledgling High Performance Computing department and to the AITI-KACE blog, which I am writing.

As far as the blog goes, I have been given contractual permission to 'freely and joyously speak the truth'
Now, anyone who has ever heard me speak about journalism and the responsibilities of those who have a voice and an audience (think Jon Stewart on Crossfire or any other place he has spoken about the press) might have an idea of where this might occasionally lead to. Much like Bomani, I'm wondering how long it'll take until they figure out what they just did.

Either way, this is shaping up to be a fun ride.

Oh, expect my comments on Ghana, Brazil and the USA tomorrow. With pictures.

Monday, June 19, 2006

You know I had to talk about this: Ghana 2 Czech Republic 0

Saturday was a tense day for most Ghanaians. We had already lost to Italy after playing particularly well except for a couple of defensive blunders and inability to convert our chances in front of the Italian Goal. we'd also seen the Czechs dismantle the Americans. Therefore we knew the chances of our surviving the game were minimum. Nonetheless, our country was playing Whatever happened they would have our support for the entire game. The streets were bare and everyone who didn't have to be out (as well as a lot of people who did) were in front of a TV.

And then two minutes into the game we scored. And outplayed the Czechs completely. And scored again.........

I don't think I can adequately explain to you what that was like. This is Ghana. Everyone watches football. We all played at some point in our childhoods. The world cup causes a dramatic dip in productivity every four years as everything gets dropped in favour of the beautiful game. And despite our supremely impressive record at the African Cup(4 time winners) and in the Under 17 World Cup (2 time winners) we have never made it to the big show.

When it comes to the World Cup, Ghana is like that supremely talented kid with massive amounts of potential who just never lives up to the promise that everyone can see. Teams more talented than this one (most notably the Abedi Pele/Tony Yeboah lead team of the mid 90's) have fallen apart over internal conflicts or discipline issues and failed to perform. Except this year we finally made it.

I will confess to mixed feelings about our qualification. Year after year I'd placed my hope in the Black Stars only to see them fail over something idiotically mundane. Finally they seemed to maybe have it together. Still, experience had taught me and legions of Ghanaians to bury our hope deep and remain cautiously optimistic at best in case the team disappointed us again. When we lost to the Italians, we were proud of how well we played, but still steeling ourselves for the disappointment of a second loss to the Czechs. And then the team pulled together and showed us flashes of the kind of brilliance that led us to knock out Brazil in the U-17 World cup and all of a sudden what every one of us, cynics included, had been hoping for happened.

The partying was insane. Everyone went out and enjoyed the win we'd been waiting decades for. Since then there's been an explosion in the sales of flags, jerseys and other national paraphanelia, which were doing well to begin with. For the final group game against the USA the entire country will be a sea of red, yellow green and black. Win or lose it'll be beautiful.

Speaking of the USA, I've been hearing disturbing rumors that your amusingly named coach was claiming that the three points against us were guaranteed. Plus apparently your soccer pundits spent all of the last week talking about how were were an unorganized, unskilled team which would roll over with 4-5 goals. Guess what, our players heard it too. I would boast or make threats but as a wise old man of my acquaintance says, football is not played with the mouth. We'll see you Thursday.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Pushing hands (video)

I thought the martial arts enthusiasts who read this might enjoy this video. Its me competing in push hands at a kung fu tournament in Ohio about three years ago. I'm the smaller of the two people in the video.

For that particular tournament the push hands division had no experience limits and I was 2 pounds above the cutoff for the heavyweight class. Which meant that I was the lightest and least experienced competitor in my division. I think I did ok, it could have been better though.

Anyway, one of my training buddies sent me the link and I thought it might make for interesting viewing.

For those of you wondering what push hands is, in its noncompetitive form it is a training tool used in the Chinese internal martial arts, most famously tai chi, to teach sensitivity to force being applied by your opponent and weaknesses in their structure. In its competitive form you use this sensitivity to manipulate your opponent outside of a marked area, usually a circle, for points.

That's how I was taught to think about it anyway. People might disagree.

Comments are welcome by all.

Edit: looks like whoever put up the video took it down.
I'll see if I can get a copy