Tuesday, January 29, 2008


yesterday, i started asking people the following question:

if you were to graph vertical position of your center vs. time as measured in beats when pulsing in your vanilla-est of vanilla lindy hop style, what would the graph look like? (no triple-steps necessary!)

i'm loving the geeky conversations this leads to. honestly, dancing my way past a mirror at a relatively steady velocity with a dry erase marker held at waist level worked well enough to convince me of graph shape... but the details of how the graph ideally lines up with the beats? that quickly leads to getting pretty deep into how to dance with swing music.

hopefully i'll remember to write up some conclusions when i get tired of interrogating people...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


got me. i'm otherwise safely back from california, but after the overnight flight monday night, i slept from 9 p.m. until almost 9 a.m. last night -- making me late this morning and not so sure when i'm going to have time to do laundry before heading to enter the blues this weekend.

adventures were had. boyfriend's family and some of the friends were met. dancing was done.

but i'm just taking a quick break from work, so more on all that later.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

sing, sing, sing!

thanks to swingdjs, i know that it's the 70th anniversary of benny goodman's famous 1938 carnegie hall concert.

i happen to be DJing our swing dance tonight.

i'm currently trying to decide whether playing the full 12-minute version of "sing, sing, sing" will get me murdered.

(i have to pack for a crazy early flight to L.A. tomorrow, so i wasn't planning to drag out the end of the dance, but this one might be worth sticking around a little into the "off-duty" time after 10 p.m...)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

election info

just in case anybody else needs to know, tennessee's presidential primary election is february 5. it's too late to register for that one if you're not already, but necessary forms are here if you want to get it taken care of before november creeps up.

and, while the site for the state division of elections wasn't particularly helpful, knox county explains it all. in tennessee, you can walk into a primary and pick a party, no need to be a card-carrying member. (that was what i set out looking for -- i'm registered as independent!)

not sure that i will vote in the primary; i haven't done my homework yet enough to care very strongly based on issues, and pitting oprah vs. bill clinton hasn't tipped me towards one candidate.

but it's nice to know i can.


an example of my mom's charming eccentricity...

on the way out the door yesterday evening, despite the fact that i've just come through and mooched laundry, a weekend's worth of food, a few audiobooks, and a pair of socks (forgot to put a pair on before packing up), mom asks, "do you need anything?"

nope, i don't, not really. after turning down a list ranging from extra blankets to laundry detergent to paper towels, i finally manage to shrug out that i keep forgetting to buy myself a new toothbrush.

i kid you not, she runs upstairs, two minutes later she's back with a brand new toothbrush... and not one of the free-from-the-dentist's-office basics, either; this one has full claims to special bristle action or whatever it is that's hot in toothbrush technology these days.

amazing. mystifying.

thanks, mom.

Monday, January 14, 2008

monster cat

mom's cat ramona, who's normally pretty cute, caught mid-yawn.
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odd little coincidence: sir edmund hillary's death was announced on friday. i happened to start an audiobook version of jon krakauer's into thin air the same day; while it's primarily about the 1996 disaster on everest, it provides plenty of historical context by talking about previous expeditions.

between press coverage of the first and six hours on the road with the second, i've suddenly wandered into knowing a lot more about mt. everest than i really meant to. it's fascinating. and thinking about it too much makes me really cold.

oh, and speaking of fascinating... while snooping around nationalgeographic.com looking for everest-related stuff, i ran across a gallery on a dino-mummy. i think dinosaurs and mummies were simultaneously just about the coolest things in the world when i was seven or eight (i came to this conclusion by trying to remember which elementary school library was linked with kids books about them in my head... odd, i have a much clearer mental picture of all three elementary school libraries i went through than i do of any of the classrooms). twenty years later, combining the two ideas is still pretty freakin' awesome. especially the photo with some skin texture poking through soil.

(must not think too much about science as i knew it when i was that age, or i'll get worked up because we're not hanging out on mars yet. we were so supposed to be by now.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

short-lived victory

in my hurry to get away from the office yesterday, it seems i left my laptop's power cord there. oops. oh well, at least it'll be network-capable for the half-hour or so before it dies.

take that, network!

it doesn't take much for me to impress myself anymore. guess i'm getting long past my heydey as a physics geek with full computer skillz.

my parents have DSL with a wireless router, but all their computers are wired. i think i must've always "borrowed" internet access from the neighbors on previous trips with laptop to here--i'd come home and hop on the first unsecured network i found, assuming it belonged to les parents. turns out, none of the networks i'd previously used are on this time around, but their network is definitely still connected.

yup, it's secured. and i'm currently celebrating minor victory because i figured out how to get into dad's router configuration and grab a WEP key.

whee! now if only i could figure out how to make my cell phone work from here... think that's a bit beyond my ability, though.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

my bank got robbed!

the story just happened to pop up on my gmail headlines. it's the branch i habitually drop by whenever i run out of quarters for laundry.

possibly the seventh robbery by "the black tape bandit"... i had no idea we had a crime spree going on.

fast dancin'!

jeremy and i taught a fast lindy class yesterday evening.

i'm always going to feel a little underqualified to teach it 'til i can dance more like this:

but whether or not i'm ever championship material, i like to dance fast, and i like to DJ fast. but without making everybody else sit down. thus, my totally selfish goal for the class was to make more people comfortable with higher tempos so the floor won't auto-clear when the music gets fast, thereby enabling me to get my adrenaline fix more often. i love it when selfish goals happen to align with getting to share some joy. (at least it looked like people were having fun. and as much as i thought we wore them out, most of them stuck around for the social dancing!)

leading up to class time, i quizzed a lot of experienced dancers about what hints helped them speed up. i was surprised how consistently a couple things came up:
  1. to dance fast, dance fast. dance how you'd dance slow, clean up the technique, speed it up. actually get up and dance to songs that you think are too quick; if you consistently challenge yourself, what used to feel insane becomes normal. personal testimonial -- i remember a set a couple years ago where chris slowly increased the tempo for the whole evening, winding up at the boilermaker's version of "rugcutter," which was about my top speed at the time. so i was recently shocked when i was wanting something to release some pent up energy and talked the dj into playing it... it's not really all that blazing.
  2. relax! even when it's fast, think lazy. think not tense. dan pointed out that a lot of the jerkiness people run into is a result of freaking out because it's fast and actually getting ahead of where they want to be... which means stopping momentum later waiting for music and partners and the rest of the world to catch up, leading to the "train wreck" feeling. i usually take a couple seconds to repeat a little mantra, "it's not as fast as i think it is." shutting up the part of the brain that's yelping "i can't do this!" makes doing it a lot easier. (for what it's worth... good balance is important enough while attempting high-speed dance that alcohol is much less useful for dulling that mental voice than it is for a great many other activities. so says me, anyway.)
there are plenty of swingout tweaks and ways to improve efficiency of movement that help too, but those seem to be the big two concepts. and they're where we wound up centering our class.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Die Moritat von Mackie Messer

since finding out that mack the knife started life in german as part of the threepenny opera, i've been looking for a version with the original lyrics that swings hard enough to want to play it on a dance floor.

i just listened to samples from the 20 or so songs on emusic that have "mackie messer" in the title. many lovely things, but while i ran across a few that i might want to polka to, not so much in the lindy hop appropriate category. a version by hildegard knef is probably the closest. anybody out there heard anything?


i finally caught up on posting photos from, oh, the last three months or so. avs and lindy focus and the mentor reunion. nothing like a new camera to inspire a little enthusiasm! however, those latter two sets are off the new camera -- so there's a lot more playing around with settings and making friends with the camera than actually watching to get good shots. jesse picked it largely based on how i like to shoot -- dark and blurry's my specialty since i can't stand the harsh point&shoot flash. so now i have a camera with image stabilization built in. it comes out... a little interesting. more is in focus, but some of the "ghosting" is a little odd. like here:

featuring gina & todd in the invitational jack & jill at lindy focus. check how todd's foot got disconnected from his leg!

anyway, hoping to finish reading the camera manual and play around some with the fun new features today... it's cool, but i wanna be able to control it!

(oh, oh, and john, the other person playing around with cameras at the mentor reunion, told me about a point&shoot flash diffuser. i have one on order... we'll see if it helps me overcome my dark and blurry fixation.)