After finishing my first episode of TWiV, I realized that I needed a refresher course on viruses. I want to know the basics, without taking biology again.

YouTube is both a cesspool, a library, and my first stop when researching a subject. I have learned to look for older videos YouTube Creators have not repurposed into sponsor driven streams filled with fluff, filler, and sponsors. This video is direct, easy to understand and has helpful animations.

After listening to a month of TWiV episodes, however, I do have one nit to pick, and I think my Hillsboro High School science teacher would agree. Viruses do not self-replicate—they need cells to do that—and they do not infect, they simply exist. In the video the viruses are moving around infecting cells. Viruses do not move. A cell must come to a virus to be infected. That’s why washing your hands, not touching your face, and physical distancing are so important.

This Week in Virology. The podcast about viruses. The kind that make you sick. A refrain I hear more than once a week since I started listening to this excellent podcast all about the coronavirus. No. That's not right. This podcast is all about viruses; the kind that make you sick.

In late March, I realized my regular sources were not enough to keep me informed about the growing pandemic. At that time, the World Health Organization had not declared a pandemic, but I was calling coronavirus endemic (community transmissions—transmissions that could not be traced to a source of the virus—were common). The legal definitions did not matter to me, I knew we were stuck with coronavirus and the resulting infection: COVID-19, until we get a vaccine. I needed a better source of information.

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Keith Hobson’s -126th Birthday

I do not celebrate birthdays. Despite the convention, you have only one. All days after that are living days. The particular orbit of our planet around the sun has nothing to do with age. Age is biological. If our planet orbited at the distance of Uranus, most of us would never celebrate a birthday. Worse than the birthday celebration for the living is the need to celebrate a birthday for someone dead. As an orbital celebration shouldn’t it be their deathday we celebrate?

Social custom is social custom. For this April Fool’s day, I decided to play along and celebrate the -126-year birthday of Keith Hobson. You read that right, the minus 126-year birthday of Keith Hobson. To be born on April 1, 2145 Keith will witness humanities devastation and play an important role in its revival.

Short Story

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First-Person Fail: The Extraditionist

The Extraditionist fiction book cover

I grabbed The Extraditionist as a Prime Early Access Deal. I was looking for something outside my diet of science-fiction and fantasy. I figured a good crime novel was the way to go. I might have been right, this was just the wrong novel.

This is supposed to be a novel about a drug lawyer—they call them Extraditionist south of the equator—that is all slime but is looking for a way out. He needs one more score, and he will stop with his murdering, drug dealing, clients to live on a beach somewhere. A standard criminal wants out storyline.

Book Review

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The Modern Martial Art Student is not a fighter

Modern martial art students separate their martial art training from the rest of their life. Compartmentalizing it as an activity that they share with people they barely know. They go to work, watch television, attend events and family outings without integrating or considering their martial art practice, it is just another activity on a full schedule.

This was not the way for students in the past. Martial art training was one aspect of an individual’s education. Reading, writing, studying the classics of philosophy, history, and medicine were all taught with the martial forms.

Those times were different. Institutions resembling modern police were rare and were often worse than the criminals. Hospitals were rarer still; the notion of an ambulance coming to carry you to a doctor after an injury wasn’t even a dream.

Mindfulness

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First Person and The Good Girl

Here is another book I would have skimmed over or missed because the story is told with first-person narration. Lucky for me, Audible was giving it away as part of their Twentieth Anniversary Celebration.

By lucky, I mean lucky-ish. By the end of the fourth or fifth chapter I knew how the story would end. It might have gone differently, I might have been kept in suspense, but once again a good author hoisted her story on its petard with the first-person narrative style.

I know, I bitch about this all the time. I promise, when I write a review about The Handmaid's Tale, or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I will praise their expert use of the first-person, until then we have tropes, cliché’s, and The Good Girl.

Book Review

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Ryan Jameson's The Terra Channel Logo

The first week of January, 2018 I sat down to write a short story about Ryan Jameson, the reporter from The Fundamentals. It quickly grew into a larger project than I expected. The result is Special Correspondents Lottery, a novella length tale of how Ryan Jameson found his way to the Santa Maria and in the center of the biggest event in human history. I have published it in five parts in the Short Story section of this website. Enjoy.

Short Story

My First Martial Art Training Rant

Rant Over inside a red circle

I was digging through old notes, making a list of things to do, when I found an early rant about my martial art practice. With mass shootings a monthly occurrence, and Russian troll farms influencing American thought, it is time to revisit my steadfast belief in non-violence and skepticism.

Before the last century internal martial art–or neijia–masters taught their students orally. Students who practiced hard and served the master well passed the art to the next generation. At the start of the last century, some masters published books about taijiquan, baguazhang, and xingyiquan. Publishing this knowledge was expensive, so only a few tried. Those that succeeded grew their schools, and their lineage survives to this day.

Mindfulness

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A Glossary for The Fundamentals

Including a glossary for a fantasy or science fiction epic is standard practice. Tucked away at the end of a book, they are useful references if you have set a book aside for a while and need to re-familiarize yourself with the language and culture of a story.

The first time I read the Lord of the Rings, it was a massive hard-bound copy I checked out from the Public Library. It included all three books, a biography of Tolkien and a glossary that rivaled the Silmarillion. I had a special bookmark for the glossary, and often lost myself tracing entries while assembling Middle Earth in my head.

Another epic that included a glossary at end of each book was The Wheel of Time. Here, though, the glossary tried to contain itself to the book at hand. Occasionally there was a term I was unfamiliar with, if it was not in the current book’s glossary, I would have to dig out an older book to find it, or read on, hoping the story would remind of the term's meaning.

Site Updates

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Twenty Years of Climate Change

Do you know what scares me? The comments attached to this video on YouTube. There was a time I would dismiss such things as trolls, attention seekers, and link builders, but then Trump happened. The comments run the full gamut, from not understanding the impact of climate change on famine and poverty to denying the moon landing, to flat Earthers. 

 

Personal Study

After discovering Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming’s original, yellow Taijiquan book, practicing Taijiquan became everything to me. I moved outside, eating, drinking, and practicing under a Pin Oak tree. At heart, however, I am a skeptic, and seeing Taijiquan through the works of a single author did not satisfy my need to study more broadly. I later learned that the most ardent practitioners of Taijiquan suffer through the same phase.

My early passion with Taijiquan coincided with the earliest days of the Internet. At the time, there was little material online. The big box bookstores had a few titles, but for more detailed instruction you had to search the pages of Tai Chi magazine or other martial art magazines for VHS videos.

Mindfulness

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Taijiquan Posture Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the foundation to understanding a subject. The same is true with Taijiquan. For now, I am ignoring the translation problem and focusing on the basic vocabulary we need to communicate the Taijiquan routine.

Is the Taijiquan routine a sequence, or a routine? Is a static position a posture or a form? The interchange of the words form, posture, and stance creates confusion. For example, is it the Yang Style Taijiquan form, sequence, or routine? Is that the Ward Off posture or form? Are you in the Bow and Arrow posture or stance?

Mindfulness

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On Writing Well

This book has become mantras I recite as I edit my work. I first turned to it when I worked for Cargill. After ten years in retail, I was rusty on the basics of a good paragraph. When you are heads down on a project, struggling with how to say it, the advice in this book grounds you to what is important: pulling weeds.

Book Review

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Choosing Other Exercise

In my two books on the martial arts, I shared how my early focus on taijiquan benefited me on multiple levels. I also shared how my related success led to pain from sitting with a computer for hours on end. My focus on taijiquan helped to create my success, and that success lead to the later pain. That same pain lead to my intense study of baguazhang and hours of circle walking every night.

Mindfulness

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Teacher, No Teacher, Teacher

My process of learning Taijiquan is not unique. I know this because one of my earliest inspirations in Taijiquan study, Jou, Tsung Hwa, said so. Now, Jou was not talking directly to or about me, but he shared his journey with Taijiquan in his books, and those stories spoke to me and my journey.

The title of this post paraphrases the Zen Koan: "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is."

Learning a new art or skill is like this. First you see the mountain, and think that others have climbed that mountain, and you would like to follow them. You start climbing the mountain, and the trail goes up and down, back, and forth, and you are not sure if you are on the right trail, or even the right mountain. You think back to when you decided to climb the mountain, how beautiful it was in the distance, but now, when you look around, you cannot see the mountain because you are too close to it. Finally, you reach the peak of the mountain and looking back you can see all its peaks and valleys behind you.

Mindfulness

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China is Killing Itself

In October, the Earth Observatory project posted a photo of the smog over China.  The haze was thick enough to completely hide the land or water surface below, and it extended far to the south and east. The air is so bad in Beijing that the US Embassy measures and shares the air quality on a Twitter feed.

I wanted to share this image to give you an idea of how bad the situation is. The problem with pollution in China is not just Beijing. It stretches for hundreds of miles. China’s pollution problem is so bad it is changing our climate. When you hear about a product recall, such as pet food contaminated with steroids, or tea poisoned by diesel truck fumes that is a side effect of China’s poor environmental regulations as well.

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Evolution and Salt

The Underground Salt Museum is an old, and still active, salt mine in Hutchinson, Kansas. You can get the history of the mine from the website, so I will spare you those details.

Before you enter the mine, the museum guides show a short video describing how to use the hardhat, and an emergency breathing device. The hardhat is simple enough. The breathing device is a chemical canister that you activate if there is a fire in the mine. It creates twenty minutes of breathable air, includes a clothespin to plug your nose, and comes with a warning that it will burn your lips. A good thing, because if it’s getting hot, it’s working.

Essay

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Thankful For … ?

The trend on Facebook this month is to post what you are “thankful for.” Most of my friends are pretty much where I am at. Catching up for the four or five days we have missed. While most have went for things like god and family, the same stuff they will say around the table on the 25th, I am taking a different approach.

Here is my catch up list:

Day 5: I am thankful that I won’t have to wait 6 hours to vote in the morning. Kansas has done a much better job of suppressing the vote than other states.

http://goo.gl/y6tdg

Day 4: I am thankful that billionaires and corporations can give an unlimited amount of money to political campaigns. Maybe now “trickle-down” will finally work.

http://goo.gl/ATfcM

Day 3: I am thankful that legislature in Ohio allowed fewer days to vote in the general election, than in the primary. Without it, these mimes would not have gotten any press.

http://goo.gl/BQGXr

Day 2: I am thankful that I do not have to read my D20 dice in Egyptian.

http://goo.gl/G7f2D

Day 1: I am thankful for Science Fiction.

What is Martial Art?

Martial art practice is more than the study of physical movement. It’s an exploration of the body through the mind and the mind through movement of the body. Martial art practice can expose humanity’s worst instincts, or reveal an inner nature that desires harmony.

The greatest martial artist of the twentieth century promoted the martial arts to a world searching for reason in the torrents of blood spilled around the globe. From the worst of those conflicts, masters arose that sought to restore balance and civility.

Mindfulness

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