Podcast Backstory

“Why doesn’t someone…”

Hopefully, you’ve discovered the the podcast project. (Originally it was called “Parkour, They Said”.) The original project was entirely based on the written word and was inspired — ironically — by podcasts in general.

In late 2015, I was lying on the floor slow-roasting myself before the wood stove. I had stumbled onto a new-to-me podcast — yes I remember which one, no I’m not telling — and I was starting from their first episode. The episodes were horrible, but I knew they would get better, since a recent episode is what had drawn me in.

But listening to those early episodes left me with a litany of ideas:

I can’t even understand them with this crappy audio. Why aren’t all podcast episodes fully transcribed and available?

But honestly, no one would read the entire, long transcript of this horrible ramble-session. Why not break that large interview apart into its basic themes? Then people can read the entire interview, or just a part.

Why not have a standardized set of themes on the site? Then the “chunks” of the interview can be organized under those themes, and people can read just the material on a particular theme.

Why not add translation functionality? That’s way better than a podcast because people can read the interviews in many languages.

So wait, why bother with podcasts at all?

Why not just open it up with a form where anyone can write anything? Then people can contribute their writing in any source language, and the site then facilitates communication by translating everything to/from every language.

…and why not make it a generic project, conveying whatever everyone contributes? Well, what would we call that? It’s just a collection of whatever it is that people have to say…

“They Said”.

…and why not make several sites, each on a particular topic. How do we name and label each site?

“Parkour, They Said.”

(Bully on you for reading this far! You now know that the “Try Parkour they said, It’ll be fun they said,” meme is not in any way related to “Parkour, They Said”. :)

What could possibly go wrong?

I know, right… that whole project above is a TERRIBLE idea. (I’m not being sarcastic.) There are at least two, major problems:

  1. Writing is hard. People don’t like to write. Actually, it turns out that writing well is also very much harder. It’s as if one could make an entire living if one could write well. :P So this project’s success depends on… Oh, that’s a problem.
  2. The way the project works, and its purpose, are not the least bit obvious, and the name is downright obtuse. Worse, the name uses a wonky grammatical construct, (“topic, more information”) which is uncommon generally, and a straight-up Unicorn in spoken language. And the meme does not help. So, go ahead, say, “Parkour, They Said” out loud. Did you manage to convey everything about the project? Oh, that’s a problem.

But, whenever I spent 10 minutes blabbing about the project, people seemed to think it was a good idea. (This was probably the conversational equivalent of Beer Goggles on my part.) So, after many months of talking about it, we built it anyway.

“You should write something for Parkour, They Said!”

“Huh? What?”

I spent more than a year, randomly in my spare time, talking about the project and trying as politely as possible to repeatedly nag a few hundred people into writing. I learned at least two things:

  1. Writing is in fact really hard, and people already know this.
  2. “Parkour, They Said” is a strikingly unhelpful name for an already non-obvious project. If the project had been called Snorklewacker, (yes, yes it is, yes I did,) it wouldn’t have been any harder for me to explain, or any harder for everyone to remember. And just for the triple-bonus, start in the hole, difficulty score, we put it on a “.world” domain.

Surprisingly, a number of people actually managed to write some really interesting things. This made me very happy.

“Craig, why don’t you just make a podcast?”

I really like talking. (Everyone who knows me just laughed and thought, “collossal understatement there Craig.”)

Via a perfect storm of things not worth the deep dive, I wind up in a ton of fun, wide-ranging, interesting, and educating conversations. That’s not just me being hyperbolic; I regularly find people glommed onto my conversations. (I literally have a new friend who — their words — “was just eavesdropping the shit out of that conversation”, and we started talking when my original conversation partner moved on.)

People — often the people who were eavesdropping my conversations — started saying “that conversation should have been a podcast episode.” So the idea of making a podcast was gaining some footing in my head space.

But, I have a problem. It’s called shiny thing syndrome, or ADHD, or whatever. (“Get off my lawn! We didn’t have all these fancy acronyms back in my day.”) So I was really, REALLY, determined to not add “podcast” to my list of things to do. I already had this crazy “Parkour, They Said” web site sucking up time.

In one last-ditch, Herculean effort to avoid the inevitable, I started offering to help people write by recording Skype calls and passing them the transcripts. I think I did three recorded calls before I had convinced myself that-

oh! SHINY!

“Hello, I’m Craig Constantine…”

Reality check from 2008

(Part 53 of 67 in ~ My Journey)

My mom dug this photo up from somewhere. It was taken in 2008, and there may have been a few changes since then.

I think this is now my favorite inspirational photo.

Why inspirational? Most of the changes I’ve accomplished have been in the past four years. If I can accomplish what I did, without killing myself (literally or figuratively), while having a tremendous amount of fun… then I cannot wait to see what comes next!

A student of Art du Déplacement

(Part 25 of 67 in ~ My Journey)

Art du Déplacement, (a French phrase meaning ‘art of movement’,) is a method of improving oneself through challenge. The founders say that to practice the art means to work toward: Being mentally and physically strong; being useful; being a positive contribution to your community; being better than you were yesterday.

But what about competition, flips, stunts, jumping roof gaps and gymnastics tumbling? …are those things part of it? Certainly, some people do those things as part of their practice. Competition can make you physically stronger. Jumping roof gaps can make you mentally tougher. So these things can be part of your practice, but your practice does not have to be these things.

For me, swallowing my pride and starting over in physical fitness with a group of people about half my age… That was a challenge. For me, pull-ups are a challenge. But that’s the whole point. It’s is about me improving me, and you improving you.

But I didn’t know that when I first tried Parkour, (before I understood the Art du Déplacement roots of what I was learning,) in the spring of 2012. I had met Adam McClellan during a martial arts demonstration and he talked me into coming out to play with the growing Lehigh Valley Parkour community. I am continuously delighted to be the big, old, slow, lumbering gorilla in a community of enthusiastic, supportive and happy people. After two years of serious training, at the age of 42, I passed the ADAPT Level 1 certification through Parkour Generations. Art du Déplacement, Parkour, and this unique community, have changed my life.

A student of Aikido

In college, I briefly practiced Taekwondo, and I spent 5 years practicing, and informally teaching, modern fencing. (Epée!) But I didn’t begin martial arts training in earnest until 1998, at age 26, when I began practicing Aikido under the direction of Sensei Michael Wirth. I practiced non-stop, reaching shodan (1st-degree black belt) in 2003 and godan (5th-degree) in 2013.

Sensei Wirth’s Aikido is an unaffiliated, no-nonsense, art; It is built on the bedrock principles of a soft and flowing Aikido, while honestly seeking to be physically functional and practical. On the mat, his Aikido is soft and flowing; It can vary very quickly from a light touch to vigorous atemi. In more recent years, I’ve repeated catch-phrases such as “No this. No that. No delay.” and “Relax beyond any indication of every injury you’ve ever received.” to convey the idea that you can be your most powerful only when you relax and eliminate all the unnecessary thinking and movements.

In the beginning, I had no clue how unique the Aikido group was that I’d stumbled into. It wasn’t until ten years or so into my journey that I realized the incredible luck of my timing: I started training just young enough to survive the tail-end of what I call Sensei Wirth’s “Does this work?” epoch, and was just old enough to thoroughly appreciate the subsequent, “Yes, it works. What can we do with it?” epoch. Those who experienced the former epoch nod knowingly with a serious expression. Those who experience the later epoch have the luxury of following the now more direct path that Sensei Wirth has arrived upon. The later epoch is certainly better, but the few of us who experienced both are indeed, very lucky.

Along the way, as I’ve wandered (physically and mentally), I’ve taken the opportunities to experience a wide range of Aikido styles, groups and teachers. I’ve gone to fundamentally different Aikido groups’ seminars just to honestly try the “when in Rome…” thing. I also made an honest effort of a couple years in Tai Chi. I expanded my practice by reading from a wide range of topics directly, and indirectly, related to Aikido including philosophy, physiology and spirituality. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I did my best to deconstruct and reassemble everything I’ve learned.

On the other hand, I make no claim to the quality of my reassembled puzzle since some pieces are missing, several are chewed on, and many which don’t fit remain to the side. All things considered? I’m delighted to still feel I am a beginner.

Manifesto

words_words_wordsI blog, therefore I am?

Nope

The initial impetus was to find a place to permanently – or as permanently as the Internet offers – publish my father’s eulogy: In Memoriam.

I started piling on things I thought were interesting, fun, poignant . . .

I wrote some wall-of-text email messages – actual writing with references and original ideas – in response to Aikido questions, and the blog split into the Scree and Aikido tag . . .

I was toying with the idea of organizing a network and system administration group in the Lehigh Valley, wrote a few things about that, and the blog grew . . . “Feed me Seymore!” . . . and grew . . .

At some point I got off my lazy butt and hooked the thing into the various social media – because WordPress functionality and oooooooh shiny . . .

Read more

What I didn’t expect was that the blog would become a “read more…” link for Craig. Someone says, “that’s interesting,” or “where did you read/hear/learn that?” …and I go,

Yeah, uh… it was on that web site, the one with the words… Wait, just go to my blog and hit the search box . . .

 

The Cat’s Out of the Bag

(Part 2 of 67 in ~ My Journey)

If you want to repeat that little jump at an angle to a moss covered wall all day until you can do it with your eyes closed… well my friend, you are not alone. I want to repeat that jump with you. But let’s do 50, just to be sure. And one more for the others who can’t join us. That’ll do us both more good than that big roof gap whilst you hold the camera.

~ Chris ‘Blane’ Rowat, from A Call To Arms

By now, all of my friends know I practice parkour with Lehigh Valley Parkour. I’m pushing 42, with graying hair and the BMI calculator says 34.9, (which is “obesity.”) So when people first find out, they raise an eyebrow and say, “You’re a brave soul!” or “Huh? The jumping from roof-top to roof-top thing?!”. …my answer is ‘no’ to both of those.

Please do not go to TouYube and look up parkour; Total waste of your time. This is one of those Catch-22 things where the people who believe — quietly, to themselves — that they “get it”… well, those people aren’t posting spectacular videos on TouYube. So you don’t notice their point of view on the whole thing.

I am not saying, “those people over there have it wrong.” I am not saying, “parkour is the One True Path(tm)”. I am not saying, “these ideas are to be found only through parkour.”

I am saying:

Parkour is…

…a journey composed of tiny steps so easy that failure is impossible.

…the grueling, deconstructing, work of self-improvement.

…that well-earned sense of accomplishment.

…the joie-de-vivre that I hadn’t noticed I let slip away.

Playfulness.

Freedom.

 

 “…and one more for the others who can’t join us.”  :*)

My writing on Aikido

Since 1998 I have been continuously and vigorously studying and practicing a martial art called Aikido. Over the years my responsibilities have gradually increased to the point where I am now straight-up teaching Aikido. I was having a terrific time exploring Aikido while trailing in the footsteps of many senior people. I’m now surprised to find that a bunch of people have appeared behind me asking questions.

What is this I don’t even…

I am currently teaching at the Kinokawa Aikido LV dojo, and I study under Sensei Michael Wirth at Main Line Budo.

What’s with the funny twitter handle?

cc1315_twittercc1315 was my InterNIC handle.

What’s an Internic handle?

Back in the mid-90s, there was only one place to register a domain name. (See Network Solutions.) To register a domain, or to make changes, one sent a specially formatted email message to a special email address at Network Solutions. On the receiving side, a program would read the message and follow the instructions. To verify the request was valid, the program checked the message for a valid InterNic handle.

To obtain a handle one would register with the Internic by sending a formatted email message containing your name, address, and other contact information. The InterNic software would then create a globally unique handle in response. Some program back in 1994 saw my initials and added 1315 — cc1315.

I never managed to figure out the source of the 1315. If memory serves, the handles were always two initials and three or four digits. So my best guess has always been that the digits were the local time-of-day when my registration was received.