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Thanks to Sifu Rob Gibson, Sifu Eli Gibson, and Katelyn “The Silver Mallet” Silver.

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Here are some OKfacebook style lists of things I really like:

Television shows:

Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Trailer Park Boys

Party Down

Peep Show

That Mitchell & Webb Look

The Mighty Boosh

30 Rock

Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place

Nathan Barley

Children’s Hospital

Wainy Days

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Daily Show

Colbert Report

Mad Men

Jumong

The Wire

The Shield (yeah I know…)

Seinfeld

The Simpsons (seasons 2-9)

Podcasts:

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

WTF with Marc Maron

The Adam Carolla Podcast

The Bugle (John Oliver)

Real Time with Bill Maher

Astronomy Cast

Skepticality

The Dana Gould Hour

The Todd Glass Show

Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend

The Bible Geek

The Human Bible

Point of Inquiry

The Infidel Guy (long gone but GREAT!)

The History of Rome

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Start The Week w/ Andrew Mahr

In Our Time with Melvin Bragg

BBC History Magazine

The Nature Podcast

Conversations With History

NPR Fresh Air

Democracy Now!

Doug Loves Movies

How Did This Get Made

The News Quiz from BBC 4

The Now Show (BBC 4)

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If you were going to name your band FUNK SHUI you would have to be making a pun on the ancient art of FENG SHUI. Feng Shui literally means, “wind water” and refers to the method of landscaping one’s estate to allow the proper flow of wind and water through it. Controlling the floodwaters is the first duty of the Emperor and controlling the waters on one’s own empire is the first duty of the lord of the manor. The proper placement of trees and the buildings in relation to trees and earth to control the wind is supposed to bring fortune and health to the family that dwells upon it.

The Chinese language is tonal. Tone makes a meaning difference in a word. In English tone only affects the meaning of a sentence. Example: “You have the cat” vs. “You have the cat?!?!?!” Read them aloud. One is a statement one is a question, in the written form delineated by punctuation, in the spoken by tone. Say the word “cat” in any register and it means “cat”. Not so in Chinese. Saying “feng” in a level tone in Chinese and it can mean, “wind”. Say it sharply with a falling tone and it can mean “phoenix”. There is meaning change.

Homophony is rampant in Chinese. In English we spell “led” and the metal “lead” differently but they are pronounced the same. I am counting some 10 “feng” in the first tone each with a different “spelling” (character) and a completely different meaning. That is not counting “feng” in the other 3 tones.

I asked Dr. Jonathan Pease, head of the Chinese Department at Portland State University in Portland Oregon how one would say “funk” in Chinese. First he informed me that his slang was not current, and that it is probable that there is a word for the American music known as “funk” but that he did not know it. Dr. Pease’s specialty is literature and poetry, and suggested a way to construct what he called a “perfect pun”. He took the word “feng” in the first tone, meaning wind, and drew the “sickness radical” around the character for “wind”. The pronunciation remained the same, but now it means “crazy”. He was visibly pleased with himself for the humble man I knew him to be. Our “feng shui” means “crazy water”, which is descriptive of our sick rockin’ funk.

“But Shag, what about the ‘k’?”

Modern Standard Chinese, widely described as “Mandarin” has no syllable finals p, t, or k. Whenever you see a syllable final p, t or k, you are seeing Cantonese or one of several regional dialects. The standard dialect of the humungous China has undergone radical pronunciation changes over the centuries. Although there are no recordings, and the phonetic elements of Chinese are vague, there are ancient surviving rhyming dictionaries and similar reference materials. The rhyming dictionaries are arranged such that one can track ancient pronunciations by noting what words are grouped together that today have no rhyme. Once upon a time the p, t and k was a standard final in the “ru sheng” category. Those finals disappeared and became absorbed by the other tone categories. Short story long, it is POSSIBLE that “feng” was once pronounced, “funk”.

The name of my band is FUNK SHUI. It is based on a Chinese language pun, and has specific characters with a specific comedic meaning. It also has a possible ancient pronunciation connection to the English language pun. If you know of another band named Funk Shui and they are still together by this time next year, please to ask them what characters they have transliterated to arrive at their name and what meaning it translates to.

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Pilar French is a local rocker who conscripted me to play on her awesome new record called Deliver. It is one of my very favorite recordings in general and of myself, if I may.

I was also honored to play numerous shows over the last year in cool places like on a boat and down town in Pioneer Courthouse Square at LUNCHTIME!!

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“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

— Louise Erdrich (The Painted Drum)

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In July of 2010 I turned 40 years old and ate a whole cake and 2 pints of ice cream by myself.  3 days later I played a 35th wedding anniversary for a friend’s parents who are beef ranchers. After that gig, stocked heavily with barbeque beef, I started my new lifestyle.

When I started, on Monday July 25th I weighed in at 225 lbs, down from 245 at the height of my drunkenness circa 2003 and up from a brief period at 205 in 2006.  I had been holding 225 for close to 5 years.  During the entire time I was an exercise junky, teaching 3 burly / sweaty kungfu classes per week, commuting by bike every day, and working physical job.  More on that later.

In my 20’s I was a vegan for a couple three years.  In that time I lost weight, partially because I didn’t know what to eat at first, and I was just starting my martial arts career.  I was quite slender.

I decided I wanted to lose 26lbs and weigh 199lbs by the end of 2010.  I achieved my goal in less than one month, and in less than 2 months I had coined the phrase “187 bitchess!!” in my doctor’s office.

I have now leveled out at 170 lbs plus or minus 3 to 4 lbs on any given day.

HOW DID I DO IT?

I was an obese child in an obese family.  Everyone in my family is massively obese and I was too.  My father, and therefore I, tried EVERY SINGLE fad diet this, Atkins that, low carb whatever.  In order to lose weight you simply MUST disabuse yourself of this notion.

There is only one way and it is portion control.  Sorry… But wait, it’s not that bad and it’s quite simple.  Stick with me.

I noticed that when I cooked, I ate while I cooked and I was rarely hungry when I served a meal.  Keep in mind that I rarely was ever “full” in my life. I could ALWAYS eat another slice, helping, etc.

So I decided to see JUST HOW LITTLE I COULD EAT WITHOUT BEING MISERABLE OR PATHOLOGICAL.  You don’t need that much, and being a LITTLE hungry is not that bad.

I work a physically demanding job.  I cannot afford to be low blood sugar dragging ass.  That said, a LITTLE bit hungry between breakfast and lunch is not the end of the world.

So see how little you can eat and not be miserable. If you get too hungry EAT JUST A LITTLE. Eat just enough to not be hungry anymore.  I suggest having an apple, and or a small bag of raisins and nuts about.

Feeling a little hungry is feeling alive.  Most of the time you’ll forget about it in a few minutes and the next time you think of it, it will be lunch time, and time to eat.  You should be hungry at lunchtime.

And let’s be honest about being hungry.  There are times when we all eat and it’s clearly boredom or other emotional eating.  But true hunger is hard to achieve.  In fact, when you start losing weight, you’ll start to feel hunger as “the medicine working”.  You will start to have positive associations with mild hunger.

Here is some unpleasant science.  Calories in calories out…PERIOD.  As far as weight gain and loss is concerned nothing else matters.  The kinds of calories you eat (Twinkies vs. spinach salad) have other nutritional implications, but are only mildly related to weight loss. Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables is second only to being a non-smoker when it comes to reducing your risk of most cancers.  If you drink a 2000-calorie soda diet, you’ll get your calories, even potentially gain weight but be hungry, and need to eat more calories resulting in weight gain. These are both examples of the kinds of calories having a health effect, but not for weight loss.

Here is an unpleasant assertion.  Exercise plays a very small role in weight loss.  There is epidemiological research that supports this assertion and my own experience in which I was massively overweight while being a super active exercise junky.

When I quit drinking in 2003 I was 245 lbs.  During that time I was “methadoning” with 2 liter bottles of sugared soda and giant chocolate bars, 2 per day at least on top of my normal eating.  With no change in exercise 25lbs FELL OFF my body and I didn’t even know it until I weighed in at the doctor’s office. Restricting the thousands of beer calories I was consuming resulted in the weight loss.  Even the soda and candy was not enough to “sustain” my obesity.

Restricting calories makes the biggest and I would say only difference.

If you take in 2000 calories and expend 2000 calories your weight will stabilize.

If you take in 2500 calories and expend 2000 you will gain weight quickly.

If you take in 1800 and expend 2000 you will lose weight.

If you eat one piece of cake over your balanced calorie in calorie out situation, you will have to exercise your ASS OFF above and beyond your normal exercise output just to equal the cake, never mind lose weight beyond it.

We all should have the luxury of being able to work out MANY HOURS a day so that we can overeat but it’s neither realistic nor sustainable for most people.

What I am saying is that exercise has many scientific medical benefits, and it’s a great thing to do to take your mind off of eating, and it will burn some calories.

But exercise must NOT BE YOUR WEIGHT LOSS PLAN.  YOU WILL NOT LOSE WEIGHT BY SIMPLY ADDING EXERCISE. YOU MUST RESTRICT CALORIES.

Try it for one month. You are not banishing large portions of fun fatty foods from the planet. You can always go back. But, if you simply eat only when you are hungry, you can still eat anything you want just small amounts. Not only will you lose weight but your need for more food will diminish, and you will start to get much fuller much faster.

The important thing is to be honest about your hunger.

Are you really hungry?

Thanks to everyone who supported me in this endeavor.

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Oh the comfort of feeling safe
with a person;
having neither to weigh thoughts,
nor measure words,
but to pour them all out
just as chaff and grain together,
knowing that a faithful hand
will take and sift them,
keeping what is worth keeping
and with a breath of kindness,
blow the rest away.

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A Manifesto on Practicing Slowly and Safely.

As a veteran instructor of martial arts there is absolutely nothing more important to me than practicing slowly and safely in a safe, kind, encouraging environment.

More on that shortly.

If you want to practice martial arts realistically, go to a bar and pick fights.  It is ridiculous, dangerous, and criminal.  There is no realistic way to practice martial arts.  Respect the cross trained mixed martial artist, but cage fighters are professional athletes.  They train night and day.  We should all be so lucky as to have free time and energy to engage in martial arts.

Professional athetics are high impact.  Pro fighters suffer painful and lasting injuries.  Everyone who studied a day of martial arts has heard “there is always someone better.” and UFC and other leagues make the point clear.  There is high turnover in the championshiop position.  Like runners shaving hundredths of a second off a race to win, someone a hundredth of a second quicker is queued up to fight the old champ.

It does not matter the style, it is the person.  There is a person out there sitting on a barstool who drinks all day, chain smokes cigarettes, and has never exercised a day in his drunken life who is a natural killer with genetically inherited super strength and whose jaw does not break.  And furthermore, even a 12 year old can wield a pistol.

So what is the point?   Fighting is dangerous.  Someone gets hurt.  An eye gets poked, a finger broken, a pretty face scarred.  So unless you are training for competition or combat, think long term strategy.  You don’t have to be a master builder or fine finish carpenter to have some tools about the house and do some basic home repairs.  In order to to defend yourself, you don’t have to win, you just have to survive.

Any martial art and many contact sports will provide valuable self defense tools.  Kungfu is an art form, much the same as salsa dancing, acting, water coloring.  There are scientific components, such as the science of combining colors, the mechanics of the brush strokes.  There are many scientific components of martial arts such as the geomtery of the human anatomy and physiology that creates the physics that generate the force for a kick, strike, or throw.  Beyond the science is the artistic compenent of the martial arts.  It is an art form like any other.  It is personal, and there is plenty of room for artistic expression and personal interpretation.

Great claims have been made about the healt benefits of martial arts, in particular the softer styles (tai chi, aikido etc).  Whether or not the specific claims of any particular style are supported by the evidence or not, one thing we do know medically is that more movement equals better health.  That movement can be walking up stairs, riding the eliptical exercise bike, or salsa dancing.  Continuous accumulated movement is important.

When choosing an exercise lifestyle, one must consider inspiration.  For me, peronally, I do not care for the gym and its many trinkets and toys.  There is no love for me in it.  Kungfu inspires me to continue, and teaching obligates me to show up and perform, rather than lay about watching TV and eating bon bons.  Kungfu is full body, low impact, requires minimal to no equipment, little space, can be practiced solo, or in a group.  The artistic “blank canvas” of kungfu offers activities that are limited largely to one’s imagination.  One can practice forms (choreographed routines), shadow boxing, drills, breathing, stretching, or spar with a partner etc.  Kungfu can be practiced hard and fast with explosive energy or softly and slowly for balance and technique depending on one’s physical and mental state. The words “kung fu” from the Chinese “gongfu” means “skill” and could mean you have great skill as a lawyer or athlete, but everyone knows gongfu means martial arts.

Implicit in the term is a long term strategy of continuous progress.  The word for “exercise” in Chinese is “duan lian shenti” which means “to forge the body”.  In my years of studying and teaching martial arts I have managed to avoid violence.  And violence is to be avoided if at all possible.  You are LEGALLY obligated to try and escape.  So since I am not training for competition, nor for a revolution I think long term.  The years fly by.  Continuous practice, with small “digestion periods” adds up to expertise very quickly.  Before you know it, a year has past and people who couldn’t touch their toes when they started are now kicking over their heads, without ever having to fight for survival.

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If you want to practice martial arts realistically, go to a bar and pick fights.  It is ridiculous, dangerous, and criminal.  There is no realistic way to practice martial arts.  Respect the cross trained mixed martial artist, but cage fighters are professional athletes.  They train night and day.  We should all be so lucky as to have free time and energy to engage in martial arts.  Professional athetics are high impact.  Pro fighters suffer painful and lasting injuries.  Everyone who studied a day of martial arts has heard “there is always someone better.” and UFC and other leagues make the point clear.  There is high turnover in the championshiop position.  Like runners shaving hundredths of a second off a race to win, someone a hundredth of a second quicker is queued up to fight the old champ.  It does not matter the style, it is the person.  There is a person out there sitting on a barstool who drinks all day, chain smokes cigarettes, and has never exercised a day in his drunken life who is a natural killer with genetically inherited super strength and whose jaw does not break.  And furthermore, even a 12 year old can wield a pistol.  So what is the point?   Fighting is dangerous.  Someone gets hurt.  An eye gets poked, a finger broken, a pretty face scarred.  So unless you are training for competition or combat, think long term strategy.  You don’t have to be a master builder or fine finish carpenter to have some tools about the house and do some basic home repairs.  In order to to defend yourself, you don’t have to win, you just have to survive.  Any martial art and many contact sports will provide valuable self defense tools.  Kungfu is an art form, much the same as salsa dancing, acting, water coloring.  There are scientific components, such as the science of combining colors, the mechanics of the brush strokes.  There are many scientific components of martial arts such as the geomtery of the human anatomy and physiology that creates the physics that generate the force for a kick, strike, or throw.  Beyond the science is the artistic compenent of the martial arts.  It is an art form like any other.  It is personal, and there is plenty of room for artistic expression and personal interpretation.  Great claims have been made about the healt benefits of martial arts, in particular the softer styles (tai chi, aikido etc).  Whether or not the specific claims of any particular style are supported by the evidence or not, one thing we do know medically is that more movement equals better health.  That movement can be walking up stairs, riding the eliptical exercise bike, or salsa dancing.  Continuous accumulated movement is important.  When choosing an exercise lifestyle, one must consider inspiration.  For me, peronally, I do not care for the gym and its many trinkets and toys.  There is no love for me in it.  Kungfu inspires me to continue, and teaching obligates me to show up and perform, rather than lay about watching TV and eating bon bons.  Kungfu is full body, low impact, requires minimal to no equipment, little space, can be practiced solo, or in a group.  The artistic “blank canvas” of kungfu offers activities that are limited largely to one’s imagination.  One can practice forms (choreographed routines), shadow boxing, drills, breathing, stretching, or spar with a partner etc.  Kungfu can be practiced hard and fast with explosive energy or softly and slowly for balance and technique depending on one’s physical and mental state. The words “kung fu” from the Chinese “gongfu” means “skill” and could mean you have great skill as a lawyer or athlete, but everyone knows gongfu means martial arts.  Implicit in the term is a long term strategy of continuous progress.  The word for “exercise” in Chinese is “duan lian shenti” which means “to forge the body”.  In my years of studying and teaching martial arts I have managed to avoid violence.  And violence is to be avoided if at all possible.  You are LEGALLY obligated to try and escape.  So since I am not training for competition, nor for a revolution I think long term.  The years fly by.  Continuous practice, with small “digestion periods” adds up to expertise very quickly.  Before you know it, a year has past and people who couldn’t touch their toes when they started are now kicking over their heads, without ever having to fight for survival.

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Welcome!
Welcome to Sean Nowland's web site 2.0. Find out all about Portland, Oregon's original kung-fu bass master, The Shag
Events Calendar
  • Sat 10/28/2017: Hammerhead @ Biddy's (Now The O'neill Pub)
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  • Sat 12/30/2017: Hammerhead @ Biddy's (Now The O'neill Pub)
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