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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tactics Ogre (Let Us Cling Together) ~ The Beginning

(Original Post titled "Yet Another Addiction")
Which is a PSP game called Tactics Ogre - Let Us Cling Together. It is a turn-based strategy RPG that works a bit like a chess/board game only this has so much more depth and layers to it. I'd only played something similar once (it was one of the Final Fantasy titles) but got really bored really quickly mainly because the learning curve is kind of steep and you really need to know what you are doing in order to enjoy it. Not unlike those trading card games (Marvel, Yu-Gi-Oh), a lot of thinking and problem solving goes into the game but unlike the trading games, luck plays a less role. 

Amazon Synopsis: Every choice you make plays a role in shaping the outcome of the adventure. As you lead the Walister Resistance, you will be in control of the fate of both your comrades and your enemies. The Non-Alternate Turn System battle engine keeps gameplay interesting, and the Wheel of Fortune causes time itself to bend to your will. With hundreds of skills to master, a wide variety of job classes to fill and dozens of complex characters to play and meet, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together promises to be the most thrilling adventure yet, full of political intrigue, conquest and rebellion. Do you have the skills to lead your army to victory?

So in order to win a battle (and there are lots of battles to be won before you reach the end of the story), you need to equip your team of warriors, knights, wizards and witches etc. with the right weapons and skills and you need to have the right team members in order to out wit and manoeuvre the AI/ opponent. Tonight I spent over an hour on just one single battle when those bloody (actually, not so bloody as they are more skeletal) zombies refuse to die. And it took me awhile I had to "exorcise" them one by one. And the only character who has that ability kept getting bashed on axed in the head ...

But I triumphed at the end and am about to proceed to Chapter 2 when things begin to get interesting.

My chiropractor is going to kill me tomorrow as I am SURE he will be able to tell I'd spent hours cranking my neck again ...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An e-Pamphlet

Bwah! What was I thinking?!? And what am I going to talk about?!?

Oh, a friend sent me the image below ... both funny and sad at the same time ...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Crooked Spine (Part 2)

Wow, I guess many of you out there are, like me, experiencing spinal issues as my last post is now the most viewed entry of this blog! Well, things are looking slightly better over here as, 10 days and several visits to the chiropractor later, the pain in my left shoulder/neck - especially when I turn my head to the left - that is caused by the "pinched nerve" is gone. However, I still get this (annoying) tingling sensation in the shoulder, all the way down to my fingers, when I lift up my chin up (it is still caused by an imbalance in the spine). The nerve that is "pinched" appears to be around my left shoulder blade and when the chiropractor put pressure on it yesterday, my arm just went completely numb. 

(Image Credit-

So I have now been ordered to do this exercise every morning and night to help stretch/loosen the shoulder area (see illustration A above).

Of course, I have also been extremely careful when practising yoga (oh yes, I'd already returned to the mat ~ TWO long weeks without yoga, are you kidding me?!?) making sure that my neck and shoulders are not strained. I haven't taken any power classes so far ~ just the "gentle flow" classes, which are GREAT (I just love the twisting).

I will, however, return to the more physical practice later next month as I've signed up for an "intensive" Ashtanga Yoga weekend workshop. It says it is for the curious and I sure am curious about this particular yoga system. Memorising the sequence is probably going to put me off but, hey, I cannot really dismiss something without trying it, right?

PS Haven't started the static Tactics Ogre - Let Us Cling Together yet ... have ordered its strategy guide from Amazon (yes, it is THAT complicated a game) but it will not arrive for another TEN long days .... 


Friday, August 5, 2011

A Crooked Spine

Remember the pinched nerve that I've been suffering from the past few weeks (see earlier posting)? Well, it refuses to go away and, a couple of days ago, I decided to seek help from a chiropractor. An x-ray of my entire spine shows that, like many office workers who spend a great deal of time cranking their neck looking at the computer screen (playing the PSP and reading during their daily commute), the natural curve in my neck (cervical vertebrae) is all but gone (yes, this is very common so no need to go all dramatic). Thanks to my yoga practice though, my thoracic vertebrae appear to be in good shape; that is, there is good spacing between each vertebra. But like my neck, my lumber vertebrae (lower back) also has lost its natural curve (from spending too much sitting down). 

The good news is, after two days of chiropractic treatment, which involves a lot of neck/shoulder "adjustment" (that goes CRACK!), the pain (in left neck/shoulder) and numbness (in the arm and hand) has reduced. The bad news is, in order to stabilise the spine (back in its proper position), I am OFF the mat for TWO long weeks :o( !!! Though I am looking at the yoga therapy sessions, maybe I can go to those?!?

So long, Aya Brea (I will not be able to finish The 3rd Birthday, though thanks to YouTube, I know exactly what you are wearing underneath your combat suit, you little minx *snigger*) and Hello, Tactic Ogre, which is a very static game and playing it doesn't tense my neck up.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Yoga Debate

Credit: The Guardian (UK)
By Hannah Booth

Jane Kersel and Tim Goullet have no truck with Buddha statues or burning incense. You will not hear "namaste" or "Om" in their new London studio. Instead the poses they teach eschew tongue-twisting Sanskrit names and aim for simplicity: a twisting pose is called Road Runner, after the cartoon bird, a pair of lifts are simply "hard" and "harder". Traditional yoga this isn't.

Called Shed (simplify, heal, empower, detox), this exercise method has been developed by Goullet, an osteopath, and Kersel, a yoga teacher. The programme will start in London in September and the inventors' hope is that it will attract those who might not normally venture into a yoga class.

"Yoga's millennia-old series of poses weren't designed for bodies with modern ailments," says Kersel, referring to conditions such as the tight hamstrings and shoulders, and sore backs that can result from days spent in front of a computer. Moreover, she says that the discipline's spiritual origins also don't appeal to everyone. "We want to make it fun, and want the average person to be able to do it. If you ask around any yoga class as to why people are there, 90% say they just want to look good in a bikini."

Jez Cartwright, 39, is Shed's target audience. He goes to the gym three or four times a week to do weights and to run. But the Shed class was his first experience of any yoga-type exercise. "It's always a bit embarrassing for men to do aerobics or yoga," he says. "I've always thought of it as quite hard. But they've taken out all the mumbo-jumbo. I had to concentrate harder than at the gym, which felt like a workout in itself."

It's not the first attempt to demystify yoga. Bikram yoga is also less spiritual than traditional forms. Its 26 postures are designed by its founder, Bikram Choudhury. Classes resemble aerobics sessions: heart rates sky-rocket, teachers wear headsets, and the focus is on the physical. Yet postures retain their Sanskrit names and their roots are clearly in the Hatha yoga tradition. Even so, Choudury has been slammed by traditionalists for making money from an ancient discipline through patenting postures and sexualising yoga.

Other attempts to make yoga more accessible have been met with similar disapproval. New York's Tara Stiles attracts huge audiences with her down-to-earth YouTube videos and iPhone apps of short routines such as "high-heel yoga". Her book Slim Calm Sexy Yoga is packaged like an exercise video and promises rapid weight loss. Critics, however, have labelled it bastardised and sexist.

Yet Stiles's mantra, like Shed's, is that "yoga is for everyone". She says she wants firemen and people in rural areas to take it up and argues that the discipline's status in the west is exclusive and elitist. "I get letters from army and navy guys who do yoga online – people who wouldn't be caught dead in a yoga studio," she explains.

So why does yoga get people so riled? Purists say that it is not just an exercise routine and that for serious students it is a way of life. "People have a daily practice, it's sacred," points out Jennilyn Carson on her website "Someone like Tara Stiles who strips it of its spirituality is seen as blasphemous."

Swami Pragyamurti Saraswati, director of the Satyananda Yoga Centre in London, says those who remove its spirituality miss the point. "It saddens me when yoga is restricted to its asanas (poses). It reduces human beings to just bodies and it's not yoga. Yoga is a broad and ancient philosophy, and a focus on its physical side is out of balance with what it stands for." She adds that the mental and spiritual aspects don't put people off, either. "The opposite, actually. We have a huge spectrum of people here, not just skinny girls under 40. People looking for the hot, sweaty stuff usually go elsewhere."

Goullet insists that Shed is not supposed to supplant traditional yoga "Our method works on many levels, physical and spiritual," he says. "It will get your body in good shape for any form of exercise."

But Hamish Hendry, a leading UK teacher of traditional ashtanga yoga, challenges the idea that yoga is not suitable for 21st-century bodies. "Most of my ashtanga students are modern people who sit at desks all day. Yoga certainly works for them," he says.

"I believe the spiritual aspect of yoga is as important as the physical, but for a lot of people, that spiritual level comes later." But, he says, having a choice is no bad thing. "There's so much out there, it's all good. People can find something to suit them."

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Good Flow

Mister M's "Gentle Flow" class tonight wasn't that gentle but it sure had a lot of flow. Just what I needed. Have been off the mat for a few days and my body was ready for some deep stretches and twists. So we went from Warrior 2 to Reversed Warrior to Triangle to Half Moon; as well as Tiger and Twisted Tiger ... all required twisting the lower trunk of the body in order to open up the chest. It felt Great. I have also discovered this "pose" that I can practise at home: place one straight leg on the back of a chair and rest it there, the standing leg (also fully engaged and straight) is grounded and supporting the body, which I lower down sideways until it is at the same level as the lifted leg, then twist the chest to face the sky. Then hold. Because various parts of the body are being twisted at the same time, I can tense up and then relax. It feels amazing!!!

Oh, I've been invited to give a short talk on my yoga experiences next month, which should be fun. I'm trying to get one of my instructors to join me too because I think it'd be interesting to hear what more seasoned practitioners have to say about their practice.

Have also been invited to a school reunion back in the UK in October ... I ought to go but it may clash with another invitation to New Zealand ... haven't decided what to do yet but will just follow the flow ...