No Swim, but Fun Anyway!

Unlike our recent Saturdays, we did not swim today. The children's swimming lessons were scheduled to begin at 10:50 and end by 12:15. Originally, I had planned on bringing Connor and Ryan to the Ramsey County Cub Scouts Sheriff Day from 9:00 to 10:45, but we ran late getting there. I had to double-back for my on-call laptop, just in case I had to act as secondary for a co-worker and friend, Jeff Mattfield. It's his first weekend of being on-call, and I figured it would be rather poor form to not have the right tools to help out if he needed it. We didn't show up until almost 10:15.
Connor getting printed; squish!

We joined a group in a conference room to talk about safety in different situations, and Connor was a very good participant in the discussion. The officers were informative and patient with the children, and they seemed to be having fun. Ryan played the shy, yet unstoppable youth. He was like an electron, circling around me repetitively, making me downright crazy.

Ryan getting inked!
The coolest part of the visit was the K9 unit demonstration at 11:00.  I don't have any pictures of it, but the dogs were definitely the stars of the show. It made me miss our Siberian Huskey, Pasha, since they're quite similar to the European German Shepards. She's living well in Duluth with friends of ours, but I still miss her. Maybe someday soon, we'll get a bigger dog for the family. I would love to have a lab, sheppard, or boxer, though not necessarily in that order.

Fencing (From Wikipedia)
We stopped at Arby's for lunch and headed over to the Minnesota High School Fencing Championship tournament hosted at Saint Paul Academy. This was one of Connor's learn and visit events for his Tiger Cub badge. I've always liked fencing, admiring the skills on the big screen as well as a few fencing bouts I participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Many of the athletes were quite good, and it was fun to watch these youths parry and strike! There are very few state high school teams,  and I wonder about the accessibility of the sport to children in the public school system.  (Meghan tells me that the boys will most certainly be going to private high schools -- time to save up.)

With Connor and I starting Hong De Kung Fu two weeks ago, I don't foresee fencing in our near future anyway; one martial art at a time! According to Connor, he wants to go every day, so I think it's safe to say he likes it. He's a quick learner, too. I was practicing the first few steps of our form in the kitchen tonight, and he corrected me when I missed one of the steps. Learning the basic stances has been challenging for both of us. It's all new to Connor, and to use my old Tae Kwon Do master's observation of me at his age, "You look like a newborn giraffe, all arms and legs and no balance."

For me, Kung Fu is a viable alternative to strength and agility training. Who needs free weights when all of the stances make my thighs burn and my legs ache! I'm so glad that Connor is finally older than seven, because I've been wanting to do this for quite some time. Having him along gives me the perfect excuse to get out of work early, and get out of cooking dinner!

Without my afternoon swim, I felt the need to get some sort of physical activity in today. Basic skills class at Hong De had finished by 3:00 pm, so that wasn't an option. Instead, I strapped on the New Balnace MT101's and ran my old familiar neighborhood 3.2 miles, but not before purchasing a subscription to ChinesePod and downloading one of the lessons. The run itself went well. My heel didn't hurt much at all, just a few aches here and there, reminding me to mid-foot strike rather than fore-foot strike. I really felt I followed ChiRunning principles well, though I could use some review and drills to really make it solid. All in all, a very enjoyable run.

Seriously, watch this!
If you saw my post on What to Buy A Geeky Runner Dad post from June, you probably know that I've been thinking about taking a Chinese course for some time. A couple of years ago, I had signed up for the the free trial period of ChinesePod and listened to the podcast as I ran. I really enjoyed the lessons, and the website, was designed well. Knowing that I was learning something new, like introducing yourself to someone in Mandarin, made it that much more fun.  I practiced a bit on the site's lesson pages and armed with this new knowledge had a little Chinese discussion with Connor tonight! So cool! (His elementary school teaches Chinese as their secondary language.)

Besides, I would really love to understand what's being said in movies like Kung Fu Hustle, which I saw for the first time last night on G4, without having to rely upon subtitles or English dubbing. Great movie, by the way; a must see!