Friday, December 28, 2007

highly volatile travel plans!

the california trip is off.

it went from logistical hitches making me skittish and irritable yesterday evening -- jesse didn't know how soon he could get there, which meant figuring out what to do with myself in L.A. for an indeterminate amount of time. not to mention suddenly needing lodging, since we were intending to stay at his mom's.

to worse -- he came back this afternoon with the news that he has to work monday. after scrambling around to find a workable plan, it became evident that it wasn't happening.

upsides: i still have a voucher good for a ticket to L.A. or to elsewhere. (just not for flying directly to san diego this weekend, hence unreasonably messy logistics; since it was a free ticket, i have to give 14 days notice) MLK day weekend's looking like a possibly a good time to use it to go meet the family and see the area. and i get to catch some of lindy focus and a reunion with college friends.

so the current plan: work friday and monday and keep my vacation days, dance friday night, hang with people i never get to see often enough on saturday and sunday, and head back to asheville to dance all night new year's eve. i hate to miss the last rhythmic arts festival, and i hate not getting expected time with the boyfriend, but other than that i'm pretty freakin' excited about plan b.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

it's not that i have bad credit...

i just don't have any credit.

i don't like borrowing--my finances are seriously simple, and i like it that way--so i normally don't have a problem with that. but increasingly, i'm finding a few places where life's a little easier if you have a credit card. so i applied for one. denied.

for getting from los angeles to san diego for the rhythmic arts festival this weekend, life will be much easier if i can rent a car. the one time i previously rented a car, they wanted either credit card or proof that you live where you live. then, i took a copy of my lease.

now i'm on month-to-month, so i have no current lease. no big, i think, as i run out to fish a bill out of the mail.

despite having filled out the little change card a few times, my electric bill still gets addressed to "kate p mahar". not bad, but not quite. d'oh!

hope it's close enough.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

i'm not an engineer...

uploading some old photos that've been hanging out on the laptop. this one's from halloween... the latch on my car door got stuck... just after i'd opened the door. i was leaving work a little late, wearing slippers and pajamas (my friend alice's awesome idea for a "costume" -- when, days before halloween, we decided we didn't have a hope of winning the group costume contest, we went for comfy...), hoping to get to a dance in knoxville, and didn't want to wait around for help... after ten or fifteen times closing the door and being disappointed when it once again fell open, i went back in the office and started scavenging for tools... car keys, a flashlight, a screwdriver... none of them made the door shuttable. i called my dad, because that's what i do when i get stuck. he, being an engineer, had a brilliant idea:

duct tape to the rescue!

(fortunately, once i got to the dance, my friend mark was able to show me how to unstick the latch.)
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

'twas the night before christmas...

since we couldn't actually go to new york city last night (boyfriend's working again today), we did our best with albany. first, to sub in for ice skating at the rockefeller center, home of the really big christmas tree, we attempted ice skating in the empire state plaza, home of the huge egg, seen as it appeared in september, along with the reflecting pool that is currently a skating rink.
don't you wish your city had an egg?

skate rentals were closed, so alas, it was but an attempt. instead, we wandered around the plaza a bit, played on a frozen-over snow bank, and took some scary photos of ourselves.

merry xmas... really, we don't eat small children

initially, i accused jesse of doing something very strange to my camera's exposure settings (for he has professional photographer skillz and very easily could have), but when i turned around, the sky was actually that color.

then, instead of a broadway musical, we went to see the one musical playing in albany -- sweeney todd, the movie. as dark as you could want for a christmas eve. and i was sitting next to one of very few audience members who hadn't heard a story synopsis before buying a ticket, there was the extra fun of surprise reactions.

here's a link to the 1846 penny dreadful text, thanks to robin who posted it a couple weeks ago; i dug it out when we got back to jesse's.

Monday, December 24, 2007

greetings from albany!

i'm here for xmas weekend. the plan was to go to nyc yesterday, but the boyfriend has to work -- i'm learning not to bet on the military's planned time off. still, it's good to be here for evenings together. and i find plenty of ways to keep myself busy.

i just got back from my "if i stay here inside any longer, i'm going to go a little nuts" walk. the leftovers from about a foot of snow that a nor'easter dropped here early last week are still on the ground. as a southerner--climate-wise if not cultural--it's a little strange for me to see large amounts of snow on the ground that don't stop the world. it's probably just as well that it's week-old and visibly dirty, because i don't have waterproof shoes along and i still have to fight the inner seven-year-old who wants to dive into the biggest snowbanks just for fun.

the latest xkcd made me a teensy bit homesick for xmas with the parents... less incompatible sleep schedules, but 11 a.m. as lunchtime has been a minor point of contention ever since i moved out; moving to the eastern time zone has ameliorated it. i'm planning to go visit in a few weeks.

the boyfriend is now on his way home, so signing off. merry christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007


for a minor language geek... you have no idea how much fun it is to have babelfish-like translation bots available in google talk. not that it's hard to get to ye olde babelfish, but putting things right in the email window i always have open is nice. i don't really regularly chat with anybody who doesn't speak english (yet!), but i can amuse myself for hours with this stuff. now waiting on the swedish-speaking bots so my friend mats can tell me how much of a garble they make of things...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

20 grains of rice per word...

i, too, have gotten hooked on free rice. improve your vocabulary, donate food to people who need it, what's not to like?

if only they'd have similar sites for other languages' vocabulary...

Friday, December 14, 2007

the importance of dancing charleston...

humor me, i'm thinking out an argument i plan to make tonight. if you don't dance, you might want to skip it.

the ksda has its teachers meetings about once a semester to hash out the schedule and discuss any major changes to make. last time, we went to a schedule where a typical month of beginner lessons is one week lindy hop (1.5-hr lesson), two weeks six-count (45 min), and one week charleston (45 min).

last time around, i voted against going to this schedule -- our previous incarnation was two weeks charleston, two weeks lindy hop, two weeks six-count, all beginner lessons at 45 min. i mostly regretted the disappearance of 1/4 of the intermediate lessons. but based on what's happened, i now have totally different reasons for wanting something different.

as a teacher, i'm not too attached to any particular schedule. not having two weeks in a row to reinforce lindy hop has meant that almost none of the beginners attempt it on the floor, and i can't see that the 1.5-hr lessons are making enough difference to justify not having an intermediate lesson on those nights. those are reasons too, but the huge problem for me is this: the scene's getting slower!

first off, i love to dance fast. especially fast lindy. while a lot of swing dancing is as much social as skill, and while i can find ways to challenge myself artistically at every speed, fast lindy is absolutely exhilarating -- it's the one place where i get seriously mentally and physically challenged, where i'm forcing myself to work simply by choosing to dance.

as a DJ, i adore playing nights we teach charleston. all of a sudden, people who had never danced a step can keep up with 180 bpm no problem, and pushing it even beyond that won't make too many people sit down. otherwise, in knoxville, sometimes, depending on the crowd, it's hard to get much beyond 150 bpm without losing most of the dancers. and once there are only two couples on the floor, i can't very well play the even FASTER song i had lined up!

now, theoretically, six-count single step (=east coast swing=ECS for my purposes...) does the same thing. not even theoretically -- anybody remember the late 90s? however, while six-count triple step and charleston and lindy hop all blend easily together, ECS does not. thus, whereas if you get a floor full of beginners and beginner intermediates capable of quick ECS, they'll likely stay in ECS... whereas the ones trying charleston at a higher speed might -- just might -- throw in a couple swingouts. which is how one builds up the capacity to do fast lindy -- by doing it!

so teaching more charleston and less six-count swing in beginner classes serves my personal interest of wanting more people who can dance fast in a more complicated manner. it serves a public health interest; if lindy hoppers like me are skipping the gym to make time to dance, we ought to get a fine workout. it's not going to hurt the social scene -- people seemed to get just as much kick out of it when we were teaching equal parts charleston and six-count. (i got tickled pink when i hurt my right shoulder last summer and had a beginner shrug and say, "at least it wasn't your left!" he was thinking of side-by-side charleston as THE basic, thereby entailing more left-hand involvement than right for the follow.) plus, it gives the DJs more freedom to rove the range of tempos and play diverse music, and that ought to keep even the most advanced of advanced dancers more entertained.

i've tried the argument out on mats and dan. unfortunately, they agree with me, so no real testing of the reasoning. fingers crossed, and heading off to the meeting... (ideally, i'd like to try every other week rotating a 1-hr intro to either charleston or lindy... but my chances of getting that are pretty nil!)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

plane tickets!

i have plane tickets! and plane tickets make the anticipation real, tangible -- getting tickets = i'm really going.

well, actually, i have reservations, and i need to go to the airport and finalize the ticketing. vouchers are fun that way, and i'm accustomed to being thoroughly spoiled by e-ticketing. however, united was super-nice on this one -- i had a minor travel delay back in october, and they gave me a voucher for roundtrip tickets to anywhere CONUS. i'm using them to get to l.a. and san diego for the weekend before new year's through new year's day--not a cheap itinerary! i get to meet some of the boyfriend's family, then we're heading down to rhythmic arts.

i also have plane tickets to albany for christmas weekend. we're going touristing in nyc.

TWO sets of tickets make me officially double-dose over-the-top happy and excited. two weekends in a row with the too-seldom-seen boyfriend ramps that up to somewhere around ecstatic.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


dear goodness.

my friend shafi sent me this video:

i can understand that one, mostly. but because i'm a bit of a language geek, and because youtube links associated videos, i've spent the last twenty minutes seeing how various countries' tv people have modified the not-so-word "animaniacs" to make it fit their languages. i think my favorite is the russian... sorta "ah-NEE-MAHT-see-ya" - анимашки if anybody can make a better approximation from the cyrillic.

oh, and has anybody else found afghans speaking english to have just a touch of a midwestern twang? i've now finished two audiobooks by afghan authors read by natives... probably not natives with particularly strong accents, of course, but still. i found it fascinating that both had this little touch of it on certain vowels. i don't know enough to be sure whether they were originally pashto speakers or natives of another regional language, but i wonder about the factors that lead to a particular "accent"...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

scary... but merry xmas!

(i bought my plane tickets and made the nyc hotel reservation last night; now that the expensive part of the planning is out of the way, it's time to get really excited about the holidays!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

istanbul was constantinople...

my generation knows the song "istanbul" from the 1990 they might be giants version; an awful lot of us gained first exposure to tmbg through the tiny toons cartoon set to it.

last night, i was flipping around emusic in pursuit of something completely unrelated (fwiw, ray anthony's version of the dragnet theme....) and ran across a 1953 song called "istanbul." i click, it's the song. i had no idea the version i grew up with was a cover.

wikipedia lists a bunch of other remakes. before i ran out of my monthly download quota, i grabbed three. (caterina valente's is the most likely to show up at a dance soon!)

coincidentally, since reading a few passages about life among the russian emigrés in constantinople just after WWI in the orientalist, i've been doing occasional google searches to see what i can find about jazz there during the era just before it became istanbul. no luck yet, but reiss mentioned an african american jazz club, and i'm curious.

Monday, November 26, 2007

quick lunchbreak rambling

i started following julian baggini's blog when my friend heather was having trouble tracking down a book on atheism by him that her class was using as a textbook... google search -> oh, interesting, he's got a blog. anyway, as an american who's recently been name-called a bit for negativity and change resistance, i found this article on cultural attitudes toward success pretty fascinating. (and yes, of course i think of myself as practical... change can be great, just think it through properly and implement it sensibly. fine, fine, so maybe i'm a little demanding...)

in other news, my company has brought in physical trainers for a trial week, working on setting up an even more comprehensive fitness program. (for what it's worth, the existing health program is one of my favorite things about the company anyway -- fruit in the breakrooms, gym memberships, tolerance for longer lunchbreaks if you're using them to work out.) i went to a "walking clinic" today expecting not to break a sweat. it hurt. this is awesome.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

from reading this blog, one might easily think i never read anything but the website.

not true. but prob'ly a little closer to true than it ought to be. but it's interesting.

among other discoveries on a very quiet thanksgiving weekend, this article by a psychiatrist who got pulled into partnering with effexor reps to give talks about the drugs. one of the more bizarre rules in the household when i was a kid was a prohibition against tv commercials -- i could watch any show i wanted, i just had to request it ahead of time so mom could tape it and fast-forward through the commercials. midway through the story, i started laughing out loud, because i found myself suddenly (20 or so years later) agreeing that it was a durned good idea.

Monday, October 22, 2007

happy 30th to shannon!

this is not the most amazing and beautiful photo of shannon. she is much better looking in real life. so am i, or at least i aspire to be. so are shannon's long-term best friends, sister, and nephew. i hate my flash, but i wanted to be in the group and i didn't trust anybody else with my normal dark and blurry photo settings. and besides, when you're dressed to imitate how you would've dressed at age 8 if only your mother had let you out of the house wearing hot pink lipstick and five colors of eye-shadow, amazingly beautiful might not exactly be the desired effect...

yay for shannon, who had the awesomest rollerskating party i've been to in decades!
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

shoes make me silly.

i found chucks. camouflage chucks. for $20.

new dance shoes? or new everywhere-but-dance shoes?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


i bought some gjetost cheese at kroger tonight. expensive, but for once it's a cheese truly unlike any cheese i was familiar with. it's norwegian and it's amazing. it reminds me a little of something... maybe some of the better cheeseballs you get at the holidays? that little bit of sweetness to go with the salty? but it's golden brown and semi-soft. yummy.
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Knoxvillains Performance - Harvest Moon Melee 2007

so this is what we wound up with. things went wrong; spacing issues happened (we hadn't practiced much with one couple, since they live in cookeville)... but overall, we had a blast and came out with something high energy and worth showing off. and this is jeremy/davenne's first routine choreography; just wait to see what they do in a year or two!

Sunday, October 7, 2007


it's been a while. but i found this guy on the sidewalk on the way out of work one rainy evening. and me being me, instead of getting out of the rain, i took the opportunity for a photo shoot.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

hallelujah, no more nytimes select!

Friday, September 14, 2007

don't encourage martyrdom among the tree people...

i love berkeley. they have protesters living in trees to keep them from being cut down for an athletic facility. the university built a fence around them.

this is right down the street from the international house, where i lived for the summer of 2000. i remember giggling at the fault-line crack in the football stadium. i can imagine my then-20-year-old self finding it highly entertaining to have the tree people for neighbors. the whole argument has this element of delightful absurdity... i don't want to be a windmill fighter, really, but i enjoy finding myself among them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

because i'm an adult...

watermelon for dinner. at nearly midnight. and it was yummy.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

madeleine l'engle is dead.

i have no idea how to do justice to her work's effect on me.

halfway through the nytimes obituary, i started tearing up. i haven't stopped. so much.

if you'd asked me any time in elementary school what my favorite book was, i would've told you a wrinkle in time. at least until i discovered a swiftly tilting planet. i read most of the children's and young adult series as soon as i could get copies.

a couple years ago, i discovered her writings for adults. more complex, more nuanced, more unabashedly autobiographical, but the same wise soul shining through the writing. i fell in love all over again. she quickly became a favorite christian author -- one who could speak from the other side of disbelief, about community and goodness.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

isa infante!

is it ridiculous and uncitizenlike to vote for someone simply because she has a completely gorgeous and alliterative name?

i was wandering around the first friday festivities this evening when someone handed me a flyer supporting isa infante for mayor. good timing; while i still don't know that i'm a long-term resident, the need to get involved with issues that are local-to-anywhere is finally dawning on me. (things like sidewalks and bike lanes and intelligent zoning laws... the places that feel more vivacious, more like real towns with living cultures, don't just happen.)

i haven't checked out the competition yet. but looking at ms. infante's webpage, the hows are more than a little murky... but the whats look fantastic.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

bookmarking my lunchtime reading so i can finish it from home later... in the midst of a discussion about recent housing development concepts, a friend sent a link to an article by orson scott card on why neighborhoods ought to be pedestrian/bicyclist-friendly and how to make them so. not to mention some nice justification for beefing up public transportation systems.

i don't usually pay any attention to local politics, but i think this is the sort of thing that could get me going. if we can collectively strike at two big american issues at once -- pollution and obesity -- why on earth aren't we doing all we can?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

la vie en rose...

hooray for holidays. i drank coffee and read in sunshine on my back porch. i baked a potato, just because i had time. i did laundry without having to keep myself awake into the small hours of the morning. i got the dvd player on my laptop working under linux. i finally tempted myself out of pajamas and into errand-running mode by promising myself a trip to the movies later.

if you don't know much about edith piaf, go see la vie en rose before reading up. let the narrative have its way of telling things.

i remember having time to think that it was a little slow. i remember initially being a little annoyed at the out-of-sequence format. however, by the end, i wound up more emotionally entwined with this movie than i had been with any other recent film. i decided i liked the format; it's like getting to know someone, seeing a life piecemeal as the stories unfold, learning to understand the bits of parts that initially don't make sense. and marillon cotillard is amazing; i've seen her in other films, and i never would've recognized her. the style of movement, the voice, everything. and within that immersion, playing it from age 20 to a prematurely aged 47.

highly recommended, especially if you already know you'll love the soundtrack.

Monday, September 3, 2007

geek joy!

i installed ubuntu linux on my laptop.

all my computer-related geekage is about 7 years out of date, and the laptop's pretty new with not-so-plug-n-play drivers, so it's been an adventure.

as of this morning: wireless works (the biggest fight! i had to ndiswrap a winxp driver, which i couldn't find in 64-bit -- vista drivers freeze el laptop; a few other issues finally led me to install 32-bit ubuntu. who needs dual processing when the system's not being dragged under by windows anyway?), dvd player works, things are pretty. i just discovered that picasa comes in linux flavor now too. life is nifty.

sound still doesn't work, but it will just as soon as i grab a well-supported usb sound card. and lots of people with the same card are complaining, so i wouldn't be surprised to see it supported soonish.

figuring out linux again is kinda like total immersion in a foreign language. well, total immersion with access to google. i get an error, i go copy it into google, i find someone else who got the same thing, find out what "they" said to do about that, eventually the random attack commands start to make sense in contexts.

now if only it weren't so freakin' time-consuming!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

i was trying to find some more information on the song "satan is busy in knoxville" (odd blues tune i discovered yesterday) and just found this. free mp3s of recordings of local knoxville artists in 1929-1930. back when gay street attracted world-class artists and knoxville was a big deal in ways unrelated to football. heading out for dollywood (i'velivedherehowlongandneverbeen?) as soon as my friend alice gets here, so i can't explore now, but eeeee!

sometimes it's ridiculously fun being a geek.

Friday, April 13, 2007

manchester, tennessee, has approximately one bookstore that sells used books.

now it's james's bookstore. back then, it was winton's. same place, different name.

then, as now, out front were two shopping carts full of books. a quarter each. they may have gone up, i haven't stopped lately. i spent hours in the early 90s rooting through these shopping carts while my mom talked to the shopkeeper.

mixed in with the harlequin romances and the louis lamour westerns, now and then i'd come across a gem. most of those gems were written by a certain kurt vonnegut, jr. i used to come up with fanciful reasons -- a single reader who loved both westerns and satire? a spouse who slipped a few into the discard pile for the public welfare? an odd conglomerate of folks all over town?

it doesn't really matter. in an era when i socialized with books more than i did with humans, they helped warp my mind into its current configuration.

it's been a while, but i miss him anyway. r.i.p.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

eep. while doing a search to see if i couldn't track down a copy of my old plan file (this would be what spat out when somebody looked you up on the VAX, that lovable relic that we used for e-mail and "IM"ing [before AIM took off!] and such... think of it as the precursor of the modern user profile), i ran across my really old, pre-livejournal and myspace blog.

it's a heckuva lot more entertaining than anything i've written lately.

maybe it's time to start posting publicly again, see if i can't shiny things up a bit around here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

i think it just came up on the random shuffle at a weird moment, but slim gaillard's "serenade to a poodle" just made me laugh so hard i fell over. (sitting on a futon, so no big danger...)

maybe i shouldn't spend entire weekends in near-total isolation...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

odd, this not really having any definite plans for tomorrow...

i've declared myself unambitious recently, but maybe that is part of the goal. to conduct my life in such a way that the prospect of a free day brings on a sense of heady delight and freedom rather than dread of boredom... while not eliminating such days entirely. it's a form of balance.

i lost a week of local, normal time. i got sick, stayed home for two days, loaded up on tylenol enough to work through one, then headed to soflex across four. coming back fuzzy-headed and out of the loop. but still delighted.

i tossed the more expensive half of my plane ticket. convoluted story, but it didn't really matter -- i got back as soon as i would've. and deepened a couple friendships in the process. this sort of thing matters.

i've had lousy luck asking people about their experiences during the week i was missing... sick, spent the weekend in severe back pain, lost a parent. i was fishing for happy long-weekend adventures that i could casually one-up with stories of running off the dance floor to the beach and coming back to dance some more sopping wet. dancing can't fix everything. i wish hugs could.

dancing does fix a lot, though. someday i'll get around to writing it out, the "why i dance" essay that lurks around at the edges, just beyond things i have words for.

today was quarterly corporate "mandatory fun." ice skating, this time. we played broomball, and the local curling club gave us a little introduction to curling. who knew knoxville had a curling club? i found myself smiling in recognition -- i'm every bit as serious and geeky about a pursuit that makes very little sense to those outside it. then freeskating... i always loved skating, more rollerskating and rollerblading (i'm southern, after all), but mostly the feeling of gliding along... it was all good, then a chain of people skates by. i nearly yell an obnoxious comment about it being against the rink rules, decide to hold my tongue. a co-worker falls and breaks her nose. blood spattering on the ice. the afternoon shatters.

on to sleeping for a long, long night. because i can.

Friday, January 5, 2007

lida rose, i'm home again rose
to get the sun back in my sky...

for some reason, this song got stuck in my head today. from the music man. i mostly know it because once upon a time my dad sang in a barbershop quartet, floppy red clip-on bowties and all... so certain baritone lines are an intrinsic part of my childhood. and this one's usually paired with a soaring counterpoint melody, "will i ever tell you," that makes it rich and gorgeous when done well.

since i was trapped sharing mental space with the melody anyway, i went looking for a danceable version. after all, it has a natural lilt to it, nice harmonies, who could resist swinging it? everyone, i guess, at least if i trust being written in the late 50s means missing most of the swing era, but still. it makes me sad. it makes me wish i were still musician enough to grab a group and take out the show-off-the-pretty-chord fermatas, add a rhythm section, maybe a little extra syncopation here and there...

thought for the day...

i must learn to resist the urge to dance along when videoing... (maybe a youtube link or three coming if my laptop and i ever get around to spending some quality time at home...)