Tag Archive for ninja

RIP Ninja

Sad news for the Oliveri clan this week: our cat Ninja was hit by a car.

Ninja

Ninja

We didn’t get a lot of details. Sunday my wife was told a neighbor found her in the street, and our next-door neighbor carried the body out into the bean field behind our houses so my kids wouldn’t see her. I never did find the body to make sure it was her, but it’s been a few days now so we’re assuming the worst. I just hope whoever hit her didn’t do it on purpose.

I’m not a cat person, but as cats go, she was a good cat. I got her from a co-worker after their cat had a litter, and she would have been five years old around Halloween. We named her Ninja both because it was cool and because her job was to kill mice. She did a pretty good job of keeping the mice out of the house, and on rare occasions she caught a small rabbit or a bird. She was great with the kids, and if they went out to play in the yard, she would often hang out nearby.

Tomorrow the kids and I are going out to pick up a new cat. A nearby animal control facility has several kittens, and we felt it would be appropriate to rescue one before the county has to euthanize it. Normally we’d wait, but we want a cat that will be big enough to chase mice when harvest season comes around. Once the tractors hit the fields, the mice flee for the houses, including ours.

Now I just have to talk them out of their proposed names like Cheeseburger, Master Chief, and – I shit you not – Dictionary.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Ninja

I needed to get this week’s entry done in a hurry, and after playing around with a few different subjects I ultimately settled on our cat, Ninja. I played around with her for a while to get something a bit different from your standard animal portrait, and pretty soon both her patience and the camera’s battery pack ran out.

Fortunately I still got a shot I liked.

Ninja

Spidey senses tingling!

I got down on the floor to shoot this one, but still bounced the flash off the ceiling. I converted the shot to B&W to get rid of a distracting object in the background. See that rectangular thing just above her head? It’s actually a bright, green and white plastic Leapster pad my daughter plays with. I had to move around quite a bit so I quickly lost track of the background, but I’m still happy with the result.

I shot in RAW and did my editing in Lightroom. In addition to the B&W conversion, I did a crop, then deepened the blacks to get her pupils nice and glossy and upped the clarity to bring out her fur.

And there we have it. Now I best get back to work on The Pack: Lie with the Dead.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Stupid Cat

I’m teaching in karate class tomorrow, so I decided to just grab a quick pet portrait shot. I got down on the floor and got in the cat’s face, and this is the result.

Our cat, Ninja

Our cat, Ninja

Want to see something neat? Click through to the Flickr page and click on Original Size, then look at her pupils. You’ll be able to see me and the camera reflected in her eye. It amazes me that the camera can capture that level of detail.

Lesson learned: get my ass out and take a picture before 11pm. Better yet, don’t wait until Friday to take the picture.

(To be fair, though, I took a different picture on Wednesday but it didn’t turn out and I didn’t have an opportunity to retake it.)

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

It Never Gets Old

I do this to the cat all the time. Have been doing so for months, maybe over a year now.

And it still amuses me to no end.

Heres a bird for ya, cat!

Here's a bird for ya, cat!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Ulterior Motives

It’s important to remember when kids ask you a strange question, they have a very specific reason for said question.

Today, the Midget asked “Do ninjas have real jobs?”

I probed that a bit further, and came to realize he wanted to know if “ninja” is a real job. In other words, do people still make a living as ninjas.

When I told him no more ninjas, he was rather disappointed. “Did you want to be a ninja?” I asked.

“No, not really.” And then he ran off to play with his brother.

Ten minutes later we cracked open his folder from school. Turns out Friday is Occupation Day in his class, and he has to dress like someone in a given profession, such as a doctor or construction worker.

Little butthead just wanted an excuse to wear his Halloween ninja outfit to school!

I’m tempted to let him, just to screw with his teacher’s head. Besides, this guy seems to make a living off ninjutsu. Close enough, yeah?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Building a Makiwara

I am officially the worst carpenter on the planet. I’ve done several small projects around the house, but if it involves cutting wood, I’m pretty well screwed. As such, I’m surprised my new makiwara came out as well as it did.

I’ve been thinking about building a makiwara — a board for punching practice — for some time. Most theories say the benefits are either strengthening the knuckles, wrist and arm or improving your punching technique. Proponents of one theory tend to look down on the other, but either way, the old masters used makiwara training quite a bit, and several modern karateka still use them. Why not give it a shot?

I found several plans on the ol’ Internet, and they’re all very close. I went out for a sledgehammer on Father’s Day (to resolve the post problem), got a bug up my butt to finally build the makiwara, and assembled my materials:

Makiwara Materials

  • 1 8′ 4×4 (cut down to 7′ by Home Depot drone)
  • 2 scraps of 2×4
  • Tapered-head screws
  • Sewer line connector
  • Dumbass cat (optional, actually)

Lesson #1 is to bring your plans to Home Depot. I didn’t only because it became an impulse purchase, but I might have gotten things done faster had I showed them what I needed as we debated many options before I settled on the sewer line connector. (One plumbing department employee was a grizzled old dude with a never-healing knuckle and several missing teeth. His never-healing knuckle was due to punching something wrapped in rope, and I suggest other things wrapped in flesh. I should have made him stick around as he obviously knew from punching, but someone else needed his help and dragged him away.)

They assumed I wanted to wrap the sewer line gasket thing around the post, but no, I wanted to cut it and make a flat surface, like so:

Makiwara Pad

It’s a little thinner than I wanted, but it’s easier on the knuckles than wood. I want to build them up, not shred the shit out of them. A simple carpet knife went right through the rubber, and I just tossed the two metal constrictor rings into my miscellaneous junk box.

Next came the lumber cutting. Negotiating the 4×4 through a bandsaw or jigsaw, both of which I believe I have available at work, didn’t sound like a good idea. In fact, had I tried it, I’m certain I would have come home minus a few fingers if not a limb. The Home Depot lumber guy recommended a simple circular saw, which I had already borrowed from my father-in-law to cut up and burn our old porch scrap. See, cutting things to pieces, I can do. Making precise cuts? Not so much.

I laid down a chalk line on opposite sides of the 4×4 and they seemed to match. I made the first cut down the length of the 4×4, flipped it over, and made the second cut. The good news: direction-wise, they matched and I didn’t end up with an X. The bad news: I missed by about a quarter inch on one side because I deviated from the chalk line a bit. I wrestled the two halves apart, broke off and sanded the broken edge, and ended up with posts that are a bit thicker on one half (vertically). I tried to take this pic from a more flattering angle:

Makiwara Board

At least all of my fingers survived.

Notice the pic was taken at night under my garage light. Yes, I insisted on getting it done anyway. I used my father-in-law’s post hole digger to dig a hole just over 2.5 feet deep in the corner of the yard, then attempted to screw the 2x4s to the makiwara post. My cordless drill ran out of juice, so I used a corded electric drill, only to strip the shit out of the screw heads before they could bury themselves completely. I decided it didn’t need to look pretty because they’d be buried anyway, but as it turned out the 2×4 — even as short as I had them — didn’t fit into the post hole. Good thing I tested it after the first 2×4 and didn’t waste my time on the second.

No worries, I thought, I’ll just take the one 2×4 off the post and wedge them both in around the post in the hole. I wondered how I’d get the 2×4 off the makiwara post with the screw heads stripped, and as it turned out I was able to just yank it off. One screw had gone maybe an eighth of an inch into the 4×4 and the other two screws never made it through the 2×4.

Yes, I made pilot holes with a drill. Like I said: I am the world’s worst carpenter.

The 2×4 wedged neatly down into the hole, though I could barely reach it as I laid on the ground and reached into the hole. It held the post nice and still (and level!), however, and even with no room for the second 2×4, the makiwara post was good and stable. I think it helped that I used a post hole digger rather than digging a big hole with a shovel. I filled in the dirt, tamped it all down, and boom, I had my makiwara post.

I wanted to use string to tie down the rubber pad, but the Home Depot guys talked me into screws. The screw went right through the rubber and through the back of the makiwara post. So much for that idea. I turned to black electrical tape as a temporary measure. When it starts to fall off, I’ll go back to string.

Here’s what I ended up with the next morning:

Makiwara Completed

Not too shabby despite being built by the world’s worst carpenter.

Now to screw up my knuckles beating on it. I gave it at total of about 40 good whacks on a side yesterday and have small cuts on each of my middle knuckles.

Masochism: it’s what’s for dinner.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.