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.