Category Archives: SCA

The winter of my discontent

It’s only mid-January, and I’m struggling to remember a snowier winter than this current one. A part of me feels like I should enjoy it, because younger me would have enjoyed it. The me who would go outside without a coat and not instantly freeze. The me who loved sledding and skiing and snowball fights. That me is not around this year. This me is chilled to the bones. This me wants to hibernate. This me wants winter to end already. And while I can still vaguely appreciate the beauty of falling snow, I appreciate more the beauty of melting snow when we manage to get up above freezing briefly.
This weekend, I head out for Winter Revel, with beer and bar in tow. The forecast still calls for above-freezing, although not quite as warm as the forecast was a couple days ago. It will be time for wool and sharing body heat, and two enormous fireplaces which I have always loved, but which I will love even more this time around. But when friends arrive and alcohol flows, winter will be briefly forgotten. When I fall asleep by the firelight, to the smell of burning wood, I’ll have happy dreams…. Of an early spring.

And so it begins… again…

So much self improvement in one year… First came the weight loss. So much weight loss. Fifty pounds later (and still losing) I started working on the running, for both weight loss assistance and for endurance training (and to prove that I could actually run a decent distance). 25-30 pounds later I ran a 5k race with a pretty good time and I’m feeling very good about myself, so it’s time to think about one of my original goals, which was to get back into SCA fighting.

So today I began that in earnest, by digging out my armor and trying it all on (a piece at a time). Some things fit, others most definitely do not. My half-gauntlets are fitting very well, so I took them – along with two swords and a shield – up to the attic to whale away on my punching bag for a bit. It felt good at first, but my right arm quickly tired from swinging the sword, so I switched the shield to my right and sword to my left and continued. The weight of the long sword was too much for my left arm, so I switched again to a shorter sword, until my left was good and tired. Took a break, put the shield down, picked the long back up with my right and went at it some more. When all my swings looked downright pathetic, I put the swords away and finished with a flurry of punches to the bag. Then, exhausted from my ~15 minutes of activity and feeling properly humbled, I took a nap. My forearms are quite sore now, identifying some muscles in my arms that apparently aren’t being worked enough when I hit the dumbbells in the gym. Considering the amount of work my armor needs, though, it’s not a huge problem that my body needs work too. Let’s do this.

February will mark the one year anniversary of getting my shit together. If I can get back on the tournament list by then, and also play a game of ice hockey by then, I will have achieved or exceeded all 4 of my goals. So I guess I should get my hockey gear out and check the fit of that, too.

Lets get ready to rumble!

I haven’t posted anything SCA in a long time. I used to be all about the fighting, but in recent years my focus has shifted to running “Battlefield Brewery” at SCA events. Essentially once per month throughout the camping weather months I go set up the bar and pour lots of free beer for my friends. It’s fun as hell, and I meet a lot of people I might not otherwise meet, and get to hear lots of stories and philosophies.

There are down sides as well: Essentially every event now takes 2 weekends (one weekend for brewing, then one weekend for serving), which is a pretty big chunk out of my calendar. Then in the cold months I go through withdrawal, because events move indoors and most indoor sites are not alcohol friendly (and even if they were, people who aren’t camping the night are less inclined to imbibe, with good reason!). Finally, there’s the small matter of me being too busy to do anything else. I know, I don’t have to be… I could fight during the day then open the bar after I finish fighting, but I just have an over-developed feeling of responsibility to the beer.

I’ve just come home from Crown Tournament, watching my good friend Lord Orn fight for the right to put my wife, Lady Faoiltigherna on the throne. It was a dry site, so I left the bar at home. Possibly the only event I’ve attended in the past 4 years where I did not spend the majority of my day devoted to beer. It was nice and relaxing, and I got to watch some highly skilled fighters lay into one another. Sadly, Orn did not win the day, but I was still inspired. When I started losing weight back in February, one of my stated goals was to get back into fighting. I think it may be time. I can spend my winter months in combat and my summer months at the bar, and any spare weekends (HAhahahahahahah, right…) in training.

Next step: see how much of my armor still fits me (probably none), and start making the necessary modifications. Maybe swing some sticks at the punching bag in the attic…


So ends week 11

Actually, it’s day 1 of week 12, but who’s counting?

A little more than a fifth of the way through the year and I’m still struggling with my new year’s resolution.  I’ve been to 3 practices and 1 event, but only put on armor twice. Not sure if that makes me 4/11 or 2/11, but I’ll give myself the benefit of the doubt. I’m very excited to see a large(ish) group of people at local practices interested in learning Liechtenauer style longsword fighting, and I’ve been participating in those drills (out of armor) whenever possible. A handful of people are practicing what we drill in armor, too. I’m dreaming of a unit of longswords on the battlefield. That would be full of WIN.

Also getting ready for Penguicon, which is simultaneously too far away and too close. I need to get active in bug triage again, and update my “intro to bug triage” presentation before the con gets here.

Decided today to start learning the C programming language. It’s a highly marketable skill (I’ve had 3 potential jobs ask me if I have any experience in C) and something I’ve really been meaning to do for some time now.

Last weekend

Sometimes I don’t even think last weekend existed. Weekends are supposed to have some “sit down and relax” time in them. Last weekend seemed to be almost constantly in motion. I don’t even remember Friday night or Saturday morning.

Saturday afternoon was when the Ubuntu Michigan LoCo got together to participate in the Global Bug Jam. While the stats page was pretty buggy and giving out ridiculous numbers, I still feel justified in saying we rocked it. Five of us in person in the metro Detroit area and an unknown quantity of other online or on the West side of the state manhandled (at latest count) 90 bugs. Plus, we had a good time! Sure, we hang out and talk on IRC, mailing list, and all the time, but there’s something about a face-to-face meeting that just can’t be equalled online.

Sunday, I cleared Saturday’s snow off my driveway and sidewalk. Afterwards I took a short but much-needed nap, and then I went to SCA fight practice, bringing my numbers on the New Year’s resolution to 2/8. So while 25% is a low grade on a test, and not even a great batting average in pro baseball, it does put me on a pace for 13 fights this year, which is quite a bit shy of my goal, but far in excess of any year in recent memory. I would have to go back to before I started travelling to Germany for Chrysler (about 6 years ago) to even come close to that. Also, I intend to improve on that pace, not keep it.

One thing that will make it easier for me to improve on my record is the Liechtenauer training group that has formed at the local fight practice. I’ve talked about this swordfighting style here before, and it really lights a fire in me. In fact it’s the only reason I went this weekend, since my knee was still hurting from the previous weekend and I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of putting armor on. I was hugely impressed with the number of people who turned out for this group. I had no idea so many others were interested. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people with a longsword (“bastard sword” or “great sword” in SCA or D&D terms) in their hands at one time before. Now if we can just get all these folks into armor and fighting with this style…

To round out my Sunday, I went to The Fridge directly after fight practice. The Fridge is a refrigerated track toboggan run. It felt more like a roller coaster, except without any turns (and you walk back up the hill rather than being carried up it). It was a lot of fun until my knee decided it wanted no part of climbing back up that hill again. Unfortunately, it decided this at the bottom of the hill… But at least I only had to go half way to get back to parking-lot level.

This weekend I expect/hope to get more rest in, though I’m aiming for practice again on Sunday, even if it’s only for the Liechtenauer training.

Quoting W

In the immortal words of George W. Bush:
Mission accomplished!
Which is to say I actually fought a handful of bouts this weekend, and am now 1/7 on my resolution. Because, as we all know, “mission accomplished” is Bush-ese for “…the easy part is over and now the hard part begins”, or “we ain’t even got started yet”.

Lessons learned:
My footwork sucks. I need to practice, practice, practice moving my feet. Because I don’t. I’ll never be very good until I learn to do this instinctively.
When I do move, I have to move correctly. My fighting was cut short because I overextended and wrenched my knee.
Took a class on speed, strength, and stamina training, and picked up some good tips on conditioning.

Mind over matter

It occurs to me, as I reflect on my 0/6 record with this year’s lone new year resolution, that I may be a hypochondriac of sorts. Whenever I decide ahead of time that I am going to fight on a particular day, I inevitably begin to feel unwell as that day draws near. Sometimes it’s a headache. Sometimes an upset stomach. Or my wrist hurts (that might be for real). As this weekend approaches, and I’m planning to fight in the tourney on Saturday, my knee is starting to bug me today. I can’t help but feel that this is my mind playing tricks on me. I’m still packing my armor.

Weekly resolution update

Yeah, I know… how boring. Who wants to read this crap? But it seems to me that the best way to keep a resolution is to keep it on your mind, and make your results public so that people can hassle you about it. Likely nobody really cares if I go to SCA fight practice or not, but I know multiple people who would like to hassle me over something they don’t really care about. Face it: it’s fun to hassle your friends. 🙂

So I’m modifying my resolution slightly to be more flexible. Instead of fighting at least once a week, I resolve to fight an average of once per week. So even though I’m currently 0/1, I could still wind up at 52/52 on the year, and call it good. For that matter, I could exceed 52/52… and I like the idea that I can see how well I did, rather than just saying “crap, I already blew my entire resolution on the first week of the year.”

Happy New Year

Just one resolution this year:
I will, if I am physically well enough to fight, go to one practice or event per week.

I know I’m probably going to fail at this, but I’m going to keep things simple and just focus on this one goal, knowing that I may well miss the first week because of the pains I’ve been having across my body the past few days. I really wish I knew what that was about.

Something’s wrong with me…

Wizard of Oz came on TV tonight. My first thought was “where’s the Dark Side of the Moon CD?”. My second thought wasn’t so much an actual thought… I just had a song start running through my head over and over again:

<font><font size="3" face="arial">The French Jesuit's Song<br /><br />                 By James Qui Connait<br />                    mka James Bristol<br /><br />                 Tune: If I Only Had a Brain (Wizard of Oz)<br /><br /><br />         I could while away the hours<br />         In dungeons and in towers<br />         Inflicting horrid pain.<br />         I would work the inquisition<br />         And enhance my own position<br />         If I only lived in Spain.<br /><br />         I'd have hot irons and thumbscrews<br />         For heretics and the Jews;<br />         Confessions I'd obtain!<br />         Hear the sounds of chains a clinkin'<br />         At the stake a body's stinkin'<br />         If I only lived in Spain.<br /><br />         I..could tell you why<br />         Torquemada's a fun guy<br />         I could make you cry to God on high,<br />         I've got a rack, on which you'd fry.<br /><br />         I could help you see the reason<br />         The True Faith is so pleasin'<br />         And Heaven you could gain.<br />         I'd no longer chat "Vobiscum"<br />         I'd yank guts out, then I'd twist 'em<br />         If I only lived in Spain....<br /><br /><br /></font></font>