Monday, October 26, 2009

big fan

i had no idea exactly how spoiled i was by knoxville's downtown west cinema until i moved -- how many small U.S. cities have an 8-screen theater dedicated to the artsy-indie-foreign films? nonetheless, living less than a mile from the naro here in norfolk is making up for a lot.

it's only one screen, so if you want to see a particular movie you have to mean it... it's probably playing once an evening, and if you wait, even a week, it might not be there anymore. the selections tend to run a bit behind knoxville, which i actually find rather convenient, since i can bug friends for reviews on what upcoming movies will be worth seeing. the theater itself is independent (i.e., no regal or carmike affiliation), it has an old-school balcony and stage to go with that one screen, and they host a lot of special events. the local film critic hosts a summertime series of classic movies, environmental documentaries tend to come with local experts, etc. it's neat.

the series that is quickly growing to be one of my favorite things to do in hampton roads, though, is the firstlook film forum. sunday mornings at 10, show up for brunch, a surprise film that isn't showing in the area yet, and discussion. a few weeks back, i saw the latest francis ford coppola film, tetro... this weekend's selection was big fan, written by a former editor-in-chief for the onion and starring that guy who did remy's voice in ratatouille.

while i've been happy with both selections, if they do choose a bomb, there's ample opportunity to lambast during the discussion. and honestly, the discussion is a lot of what draws me. in college, the tennessee tech honors program had a weekly "mindful movie", attended largely by freshmen who could earn what would've otherwise been work-study credit by being active in honors... idea was to watch a thought-provoking movie and then talk about it. i loved it, kept coming long after i had no need for signed papers proving i'd been there, and eventually chaired the committee that chose movies and moderated discussion for a semester. and i find myself referring to the firstlook film forum as "mindful movies for grownups." except with no feet-draggers who have to be there, just interesting people who like to talk about movies. i'm still feeling a bit too shy to actually ask for one of the microphones and say anything during the discussion -- the old habit of wanting to observe a social milieu for a while before actively participating in it dies hard -- but i find it quite cool.

whereas tetro was a film geek's delight --black and white, with stylized, deliberate lighting that's begging to be analyzed, cinematic references throughout-- big fan is more the sort of thing our old mindful movie committee would've chosen. it takes a "what if" --what if a hardcore football fan were beaten up by his favorite player?-- and runs with it. and by creating what are fairly believable characters and taking them through this plot, by finding a rather nice balance between the funny-sad extreme situation and the uncomfortably close to us (one lady who'd laughed more than most of the audience later explained that it was because the main character's family reminded her of her own... and the sports talk radio mini-celebrities seem a lot closer to home if i think about the lindy community for a couple seconds...), the film opens up all kinds of discussions about identity, violence, celebrity, society in general. it didn't come up in the discussion, but i found my mind wandering to the recent re-controversy over the roman polanski rape case, lest film fans get too superior about relegating celebrity criminals and troubled public reactions to the sports world. it's definitely a movie for a broader audience than those who'd normally flock to "sports" genre pics.

(and... i started writing this on monday, got sidetracked, and it's lunchbreak on thursday. time to hit post whether it's ready for primetime or not.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

how i wound up with two bicycles

a few wednesdays back, i woke up. i did all the usual pre-out-the-door stuff, then went out to the porch to grab my bike.

er, except no bike. just a gaping expanse of porch. with one of the pickets, the one i'd chained my bicycle to, dislocated. (i originally thought it'd been cut... on later inspection, it was more like bent.)

in shock, i called in late to work and started walking. didn't think about stopping to change to comfier shoes... thus winding up with blisters, 4 days before my half marathon. the bicycle thief not only gets blamed for the bike itself, he or she made me EVEN SLOWER that i would've been.

i called in a police report. not because i expected it to have any results -- i'm aware that the norfolk police have other priorities -- but it somehow made me feel better.

i love walking, but not when it means getting up earlier. or being exposed to more rain. life as a non-bicycle-owner just wasn't going to cut it anymore. i started shopping.

while i read craigslist non-stop in hopes of finding my bike or a relatively similar one for a good price, i started visiting the local bicycle shops. i fell in love with a giant hybrid bike that was way out of my price-range. i tried out nearly everything else they had in my size. i dragged jesse down to the performance bike shop in virginia beach and made laps around their store. playing on all the hybrids, i decided that i really like the feel of the ones that are on the road bike end of the spectrum. if/when i can afford a bike for fun, and when i can afford to take my time finding a good deal, i think maybe i will buy a road bike.

but for getting back and forth to work and groceries and errands? need utility bike.

i wound up with a dahon speed d7 from the local bike shop. it folds. it fits under my desk and/or in the corner of the living room, so i don't have to worry about its continuing existence in the spot where i left it. it's cute. it's zippier than my dear old schwinn, and super-easy to carry. it's hopefully sturdy enough to deal with my daily commute for a long time to come. i haven't figured out a big luggage solution that lets it still fold yet (folding pannier baskets are an option, maybe?), but on weekends i've been attaching a file crate to the back rack to haul things around. here it is, posing on the way to the recycling center:

one week after buying the dahon, a week and a half after the disappearance, my schwinn world tourist came back. we got home from one of the dirt cheap blues dances in the early-sunday-morning hours, and there it was -- propped up against the stop sign across the street.

unfortunately, no narrative note left with it, and the bike won't tell me where it's been, so guesses about the disappearing/reappearing act are all we've got. kid whose mom finally noticed and made him or her bring it back? homeless person who "traded it" for a more legit charity bike? bicycling criminal at large just happened to be picked up across the street from the site of the bike theft? (one of our houseguests DID report seeing some police lights over there earlier in the night.) who knows.

the schwinn came back a little worse for wear -- it'd obviously slept outside in the rain for a few nights and had a new clunking sound from the front wheel, and the computer, U-lock, and crate were gone... so now it's spent a while upside down in the living room. the amount of whining i put on while it was gone convinced me that i do, in fact, like THAT bike, so i've finally invested more than i paid for the bike itself for a new set of tires. last night's adventures led to completely exploding one new tube before figuring out how to more-or-less solidly get new tire and tube securely on the rim. bike wheel technology has apparently updated a bit in the last 25 years, and modern tires aren't all that comfortable with classic smooth-bead rims. i decided to stop after the front one so i can give it a little test ride and see if it's really ok before replacing the other...

so yeah. two bicycles. and i guess figuring out bicycle maintenance just might be my newest hobby.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

august-september - the organized overview

once again, it's been long enough since posting here that i can't figure out how to attack. so here's the quick, organized, chronological version of things since the last time i wrote here, with memory supplemented by google calendar and twitter feed:
  • camp hollywood in l.a.
  • development of obsession with farmer's market and random food experiments
  • entering the heart of hurricane season, which is thus far mild but still features enough flooding for a little adventure and further development of my heavy rain phobia
  • international lindy hop championships in d.c.
  • bike stolen
  • half marathon survived
  • new folding bike!
upcoming excitement:
  • dirt cheap blues (ok, so i'm not much into blues and therefore not that excited, but i am looking forward to seeing people and need to clean up the apartment TONIGHT so we can host, so i'd better work on the enthusiasm.)
  • jesse gets 2 weeks off for minor surgery?
  • new phone - what should i choose?
  • CSA subscription starts!
  • further adventures to NYC on the chinatown bus
and on to the omnidirectional rambling. maybe. (and maybe i should split it up into a few posts.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

en route to camp hollywood...

last chance to update before camp hollywood... and if i'm overwhelmed now with how much has gone on since i last bothered to blog, it won't get better with that. (heh. so when i wrote that, it wasn't really the last chance -- it's now "tomorrow", and i'm stuck in the philly airport for another 3 hours before the 6-hours-later-than-the-original flight to LA that i got stuck with when norfolk's planes weren't getting off the ground this morning. they stuck me in a cab to newport news, where the flights to philly apparently were relatively untroubled. silver lining: maybe, just maybe, for once i'll get something written and hit publish before i can think too hard!)

honestly, the worst of the busy has been over for nearly a month. let's see, vblx was june 19-21... we got access to the new apartment just before that, and had fun hosting a few pennsylvanians in the mostly-empty rooms. jesse was at sea for most of the couple weeks from then until we had to be out, but was around for the final rush. we handed in our keys at the old apartment on june 30... the week leading up to that was somewhat insane. the week after that was also insane, since we had declared we were having a housewarming party on july 10, effectively setting a deadline to unpack. it all got done, more or less. during the moving process, i got to rent a pickup truck -- it's official, dodge ram is not my style, but i did not smash it into anything. i am also almost too wimpy to make half a clothes-dryer moving team -- thank goodness we're on the ground floor this time.

looking back through my calendar, it strikes me that this weekend will be my first major out-of-town trip since going on a quick whirlwind to see the parents memorial day weekend. that's unusual. and fine. i've been enjoying settling into my new neighborhood.

the most major lifestyle difference: bicycling to work instead of 3 hours a day on the bus. i love it. i've been really lucky with cooperative weather so far, so i'm not entirely sure what my rain plan is... the bus, i guess, if it gets so bad a poncho won't help? it's a bit under 3 miles each way through some of the prettiest parts of norfolk. i can sleep in until almost 8 if i need to and get to work on time. (i don't really unless i've been out dancing ridiculously late, because i love the luxury of getting enough sleep and still being able to have an hour to eat breakfast and get a few things done.) there's a grocery store on the way home, among other shops, so i don't have to lean quite as heavily on jesse for our household errand running. heck, there's even an art-house cinema (probably the biggest thing i've missed from knoxville besides the friends there...) between home and work. my friend mark and i have been catching their series of "classics with mal," where the longtime local film critic shows a classic film and then rambles for 30 or 40 minutes about everyone he's ever interviewed who's at all connected to the film. i'm a fan of the story-telling -- it's a neat mix of cinema and local history... a certain boyfriend, who was available to go for the magnificent seven, didn't enjoy the after-lecture, though, and i can totally understand and release him from the obligation to stick around with me if he comes back.

my other big project lately has been working towards being able to run the virginia beach half-marathon in early september. i'm only dancing one to two nights a week most of the time, so it's a good time to do it without too much danger to the knees. i'm up to a PAINFULLY SLOW 8.5 miles for my long run. and a little apprehensive about missing it this weekend... maybe i'll rearrange things to go tuesday or wednesday night. i was going to hoping my shoes and run in cali, but i ran out of space in my bag and decided i wouldn't likely do it anyway. now that it's getting close to fall, the virginia summer's finally warmed up to what i think of as summer -- 90s and humid. after discovering that a little dehydration melts my brain to a disturbing degree the previous week, i took water and ran after dark on sunday. jesse wasn't around to check my conversational dexterity, but i think it was better. (conversation was the main place where i was obviously impaired after running... for example, i remember struggling to tell jesse about a story i'd recently heard on the radio about khrushchev's first trip to the US; i had to resort to calling him "the soviet shoe-banging guy?" because i couldn't remember the words "khrushchev" or even "premier" or "after stalin.")

'k, with 2 hours here to go in the airport... time to switch from rambling on to wandering around for a bit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

testing, testing

am i on tehran time yet? scott westerfeld is hoping putting everyone's blog on UMT +3:30 will overload the censors trying to shut down communication among iranians. tiny effort, why not?

even if the election looked clean, censorship sucks.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

last night's set

at the attucks. lee DJed the first half hour, then i took over, then jeff. it's suddenly gotten to be a very different crowd -- lots of college kids. some of them are ODU, some are home from the summer from other places. they all seem to like the neo/rockabilly/jump blues/otherwise-rock-influenced stuff more than i do. as i realized that, my set got a lot more r&b/crunchy/kansas city than i'd really prepped for. still, got to try out some fun stuff, and the floor was relatively unkillable.

Oh Babe - Lucky Millinder 170
Bearcat Shuffle - Andy Kirk And His Twelve Clouds Of Joy, Mary Lou Williams 158
Fiddle Diddle - Lionel Hampton 142
'Tain't No Use - Benny Goodman 155
8, 9 And 10 - Slim Gaillard 181
Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air - Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Ostrich Walk - Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen 174
All That Meat And No Potatoes - Will Bradley/Ray McKinley 137 (this one was prob'ly the roughest going of the evening... pretty likely to just stick to the fats version from here on out.)
Drop Me Off In Harlem - Mills Blue Rhythm Band 143
Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai (Hawaiian War Chant) - Andrew Aiona 186
Why Do Hawaiians Sing Aloha? - Fats Waller 147
Sing Me A Swing Song - Benny Goodman 188
Go Down Moses - Louis Armstrong 107
Come On Over To My House - Jay McShann 141
Teardrops from my eyes - Ruth Brown 145
Rag Mop - Joe Liggins And The Honeydrippers 154
Swing, Brother, Swing - Billie Holiday 151
Moten Swing - Kansas City Soundtrack 156 (why didn't i remember that i have the KC band's "king porter stomp" instead?)
Sweet Sue,Just You - Jimmie Lunceford 158
Southland Shuffle - Ella Fitzgerald 192 (listening to this one again now... and wow, i love the piano player! whole album, as recommended by allen kerr on lindybloggers, is awesome.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

what makes a bad neighborhood?

now that we're moving to an apartment that's sometimes purported to be in one, i'm curious.

people keep telling me to drive through as dark's falling, to trust my instincts. i hate to say it, but i really don't have much in the way of instincts about this sort of thing. abandoned-looking houses with busted out windows everywhere spook me, but the upkeep in the couple blocks around us looks fine. i've been tracking on, and i can't really see much difference in the number of incidents between where we're moving and the supposedly "good" neighborhoods -- car break-ins and occasional robberies seem to be pretty standard for the city. people seem to cite folks standing around outside as a telltale... but it's summertime, and i tend to take that as neighbors being much more likely to have an idea what's going on in the area. and not being too afraid to be out -- that's good too.

we've committed now, so it's too late to back out... ok, we did insist on adding an early termination clause to the lease, just in case it's too good to be true. but what do YOU look for when scoping out a neighborhood?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ebooks: the verdict so far

no kindle for me. not yet. want, but not want enough to pony up the cash.

however, i've recently been carrying around jesse's netbook because he wasn't using it and it's teensy and adorable. and about the weight of a book anyway. plus, i recently noticed that the cross-the-water buses (aka the MAX) have internets, which occasionally comes in handy... and/or distracting.

anyway, since i was carrying book AND computer around, i thought i'd give combining the functions a go. after a little shopping around, i found that had digital editions of some of my current brain candy series (jim butcher's dresden files, for the curious) for cheaper than most.

and now i've finished that book. and bought another. and have a couple things off project gutenberg stored for good measure.

for now, though, i'm still keeping a real book on me, too. minor irritations i find with reading via the netbook: bootup time (hear that dedicated reading devices don't have much of this), not so great in full sunlight (again with the kindle fixing it), shortish battery life (go go dedicated devices), and having to keep electronic devices off for big portions of airplane flights... the ones that really bug me, though, are the not being waterproof -- not that conventional books are terribly waterproof, but reading in the bathtub or by the pool or carrying a book around in the rain is risking a book, not my entire library and a pricey device! -- and feeling conspicuous. the latter will improve with time, but right now it's a bit of an issue... if i'm sitting out in the open reading along on the netbook, people seem compelled to talk to me and ask questions about it, which is pretty much the opposite of what i want when i'm trying to lose my environment in favor of a book. i expect that any of the fancier dedicated gadgets would just make this one worse. jesse suggested that the easy way around this is putting in a pair of earbuds, even if they're not playing anything. guess i'll give that a go on ebook #2.

there's plenty to love, though. #1, weight. the process of packing up the apartment is making this one hit home... i get attached to books, i have a hard time bringing myself to sell or donate the ones i've read and loved; if i can keep 'em in (pretty smallish) files, problem solved. on the other hand, however, lending gets a bit messier. (tangent - anybody want to "borrow" any of the novels i've read recently? for long-term to forever? jesse's asked me if thinning the bookshelves would be possible, and i figure handing things off to friends would be easier on my packrat instincts.)

an offshoot of the weight issue, if i can keep the battery running, i'm not going to realize halfway through the trip to work that i'm at the end of my novel and have nothing to keep me entertained the rest of the day's trips...

for the netbook, anyway, low light is no problem. it at least feels less disturbing on nighttime flights or in cars than the little spotlights.

the eyestrain isn't bad. granted, i haven't been sitting down for hours-long reading marathons lately, but with the adjustable-size font i think it may actually be less straining than a typical paperback if you're not out in the sun.

as a good little environmentalist whenever it starts to get convenient, i don't think i'm really concerned that they're charging as much for a bunch of electrons as they do for a paperback. print media publishers are struggling, a little profit's not going to kill anyone. and with ereader, anyway, i don't think the books actually are as expensive -- most of the full prices are comparable, and they apply a little credit to your account with each purchase to go towards the next one. and it's quite a bit cheaper when you're too antsy to wait for the paperback edition.

if we all switched to ebooks, i'd miss the physical bookstore experience -- i admit it, i love going, grabbing some overpriced coffee, browsing my way around slowly, reading backs of books. i love the conversations that start when you go to a bookstore with someone.

but anyway. so far, tentative thumbs up on the ebooks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

setlist - attucks, 05/21/09

after i got off work yesterday, i had a bit of a migraine.

first dental checkup in six years hadn't helped. (no cavities, but some of my teeth are looking unusually worn... the dentist wanted to know if i grind them at night. i don't know, but later internet research reveals that this and the headaches MIGHT just be linked!)

so anyway, i napped in jesse's car (which i'd borrowed because of aforementioned dentist appointment) outside the dance through about the first hour of the dance... and then went in and almost decided that i really was feeling a bit too sick to stay. jeff was willing to keep spinning.

but. i hadn't djed in a while and felt like i needed to do a bit before VBLX. plus, i've been flakey enough because of transportation issues, and those weren't in the way for once. the floor was dying when i took over (no fault of DJ... it was a slow night for what's a small crowd anyway), and it didn't get better... so the last few on here are just things i really wanted to hear on the big speakers more than things i expected anyone there to dance to!

Mahzel (Means Good Luck) - Benny Goodman 153 (on the personal overplayed list...)
Blitzkrieg Baby (You Can't Bomb Me) - Count Basie Sidemen 130
Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall - Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra 149
T'Ain't What You Do (It's The Way That You Do It) - Jimmie Lunceford 159 (there were a couple kids from va tech in who wanted a shim sham. i pause when the lyrics start! nobody else here does!)
The Hatchet Man (Chop, Chop) - Casey Macgill's Blue 4 Trio 165
Potato Chips - Slim Gaillard & his Shintoists 144
Froggy Bottom - Andy Kirk and His Clouds Of Joy 153
Let's Do It - Billie Holiday With Lester Young 152
Celery Stalks No. 2 - Will Bradley/Ray McKinley 170
The Gal From Joe's - Duke Ellington 164
Savoy - Lucky Millinder 170
Isle Of Capri - The Firehouse Five Plus Two 168
Walkin' The Dog - Bunny Berigan 182
C Jam Blues - Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra 142 (desperate last-ditch attempt to get life on floor again... i think there were 2 followers left by then, so not-so-successful.)
I'm Feeling Alright - Big Mama Thornton 106 (it's a blues scene, right?!?)
Salty Dog - Lizzie Miles with Sharkey & His Kings Of Dixieland 194
Fry Me A Cookie With A Can Of Lard - Will Bradley/Ray McKinley 153 (LOVE the title. song, i'd like to play it for a really creative crowd of advanced dancers sometime... it alternates fun groove passages and kinda-dissonant not-really-swing. but not for an average local dance night! i wouldn't have a clue what to lead to it.)
Everybody Rock - Ella Fitzgerald 188

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

moving again!

i feel like i've been under a writing block lately... too much happening too fast; living it is fun, but i try to write, and i get completely overwhelmed. the last several weeks, in total blur format: d.c. for dclx, new york via chinatown bus kinda for babble (but mostly for wandering), conference in richmond, new york again for frankie's funeral and my birthday, work a week, find an apartment, shop for jesse's new car, sign up for half marathon, make it through the state inspection at work...

but it's time to start breaking through the weight of things to tell. easiest way? start rambling incoherently.

my current can't-shut-up-about topic is moving. we're not moving far, just a grand total of 18 miles if you have a car... but if you don't, or even if you do and traffic sometimes makes that particular 18 miles take two hours to traverse... it's a different universe.

norfolk has neighborhoods. each with a cute little sign. long before we really started looking at specifics, i started talking to people about neighborhoods.

everyone says to live in ghent. it's cute, in walking distance to a whole district of bars and restaurants, not very far from downtown. unfortunately, also seemingly out of our price range for anything with central air conditioning. not really an option when boyfriend isn't really a fan of the muggy hot southern summers. (it's been really gentle weather thus far this year, but i'll be amazed if the 70s last into june!)

we wound up finding a place in park place, just north of ghent, which is actually one of the ones people tend to recommend avoiding. BUT! it's a couple blocks off the campus of old dominion university. completely renovated condo -- a dishwasher, hookup for washer and dryer, and modern-looking electrical sockets were all also among missing features for most of the places we looked at. and a crime map utterly fails to convince me that the particular area is really any worse than the rest. maybe i'd worry more if we were trying to raise children and ensure they stayed out of trouble, but for us it's fine. under 3 miles from work, so i can bike maybe 40 minutes instead of riding the bus for 3 hours a day. half an hour each way by bus if the weather gets bad. 6 miles to the base where jesse's ship should eventually stay once they get the bugs worked out and get it away from the shipyards...

aside from the details of the place, though, i think i'm most excited about living in the same community where i work and play. two of the things that really appeal to me, the conflicting urges i live between, are the impulse to explore as much of the world as i can... and the need to really dig in my toes and become a part of wherever it is that i find myself. that second option means working to build the reality i want instead of continually wandering around to see if what's out there already. getting involved.

and somehow, that little 18 miles makes such a difference for that mission. local buses, unlike the cross-bridge ones, run 'til around midnight. so the curfew for having to figure out an alternative way home becomes four hours later. i can try out activities independently without worrying so much. explore in more depth. volunteer. see if and where i fit. maybe even go back to school... (available tuition assistance from work kicks in next winter!)

i'm excited.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

excitement! new york!

my poor, greatly neglected blog!

alas, i've gotten a little too at ease with rambling in 140-character chunks, so twitter's been getting all the attention. and it's linked to facebook now, so those ramblings get comparative tons of feedback. am i still anathema if i admit that i actually like the new facebook layout and tend to use it more now?

BUT! i'm going to new york city this weekend. the excitement cannot be contained in 140 characters!

AND! i'm taking the chinatown bus up. and wandering around most of the day saturday. i've bopped around the country quite a bit the last couple years, but i've not done much of this kind of travel -- the go-be-a-tourist kind. i'm packed pretty lightly, but even so i have the guidebook that i bought last year when jesse and i thought we were going to the city over xmas. (he wound up having to work, i wound up hanging out in his room in albany with his space heater...)

plan is... after work, head to gym, work out as excuse to take one last shower before my night on the bus. meet up with jill, who's coming to town for rugby, and jesse, and eventually some of jesse's coworkers... hilarity ensues? as long as i make it to get on the bus tonight around midnight, sleep on bus, and wake up in manhattan in the morning...

from there, the plans get even fuzzier, but definitely include the strand bookstore and lots and lots of walking and exploring (the brooklyn bridge? the cloisters? wandering central park? greenwich village?) and eating things i can't get here (i've proclaimed that i'm going on a mission for stinky tofu in chinatown, but we'll see how that goes once i've actually smelled it... black and white cookies, egg creams, ny pizza and garlic knots, proper pastrami sandwiches... if i eat everything i want to try in one day, i will explode!). i can't wait. and then, hopefully, i can catch up with the dancers (especially the old friend who's offered to host me!) and eventually do some dancing at babble.

and then... ride back on sunday! with jay and david. short trip indeed. will let you know (possibly in 140 characters or less) whether my idea of fun corresponds with real fun.

Friday, March 27, 2009


makes me hurt. but in a good way, all sore muscles.

last night was my second week trying the class that meets in the same building where i regularly swing dance. i watched for a little when i showed up early to teach a dance class a few weeks ago, and got transfixed.

it's interesting to be this awkward at something again. up through the end of college, i always assumed i was naturally unathletic and that there was no point in even trying... then after a little while out, i signed up for a karate class for something to do. and there, in a sport that isn't primarily about running or catching or throwing or any other motion people start doing at a very young age, i finally got it -- of course i'm naturally unathletic, everybody pretty much is, but nature can be overcome. there, most people who didn't come in with prior martial arts experience looked pretty awkward at first... and then they slowly stopped looking awkward. and the belts reminded everybody how long the people who looked really good had been there. rates varied a little, but it was clear -- it's more a learning thing than a nature thing.

capoeira unlocks totally different degrees of freedom in movement than most activities. the hands as well as the feet are points of balance, and the idea is to move and dodge and attack in a way such that nothing but hands, feet, and occasionally head hit the ground. it's kinda amazing... i dance, i mimic movement relatively well now... but the instant you start treating my hands like extra feet and expect me to use them in balance, brain turns idiotic and i find myself getting stuck, unable to tell my body how to do what i want it to do until the instructor or one of the more advanced students breaks it down for me again.

i'm looking forward to watching it become more comfortable. and thankful to be experiencing beginner syndrome again... sometimes it's much too easy to lose sight of when i'm teaching. there's still a twinge of embarrassment here and there when i'm really struggling with something, but i can grin and bear it -- it's a phase, and i'm pretty sure that if i stick i'll get through it.

i've semi-volunteered to teach lindy hop for the next 4 weeks, so it'll probably be a while before i can continue with the capoeira. but i'm excited about getting back to it when i can.

Monday, March 2, 2009

the internet is amazing

jesse, who's recently picked up the ability to make a killer pina colada, accidentally bought a few cans of coconut milk instead of coconut creme. not the same.

i, meanwhile, had completely forgotten about a couple sweet potatoes i had bought a few weeks back. adventures in putting up groceries this weekend brought me face to face with them.

i don't cook. not much. so figuring out what to do with extra coconut milk does not come naturally.

solution? ask the internet.

on a whim, i googled "coconut milk, sweet potato recipe." i got piele. add ginger root, we're set.

it's yummy. yay internet.

Friday, February 20, 2009

short stuff

i've not been getting around to writing about things lately... so bullet-point time.

  • virginia -- like, the same virginia where philip morris is based, the one where jamestown started commercial tobacco production back in the early 1600s -- just put through legislation banning smoking in most bars and restaurants. hallelujah, i didn't really think it'd get passed!
  • i worked at project homeless connect all day yesterday. one of the cooler things about my job is the opportunity to do things like this - as part of the job. and it was an eye-opener. the event served more than 500 homeless folks yesterday... tons of volunteers and most of the local human services agencies were out to match people up with housing, medical and dental care, i.d. services, haircuts, new shoes, care packets with sanitary items, towels, clothes, food, you name it. the heartbreaking part was when things ran out -- men's shoes and dental appointments for the day were among the first to go. my day was split among escorting folks to the restrooms near the initial line (the restrooms were in a hallway that gave access to the rest of the scope arena... the facility didn't want people wandering the entire place), taking exit interviews, and handing out clothes and tote bags with towels. i'll certainly be back for the next event this summer.
  • unexpected side effects: i took up using cloth grocery bags. (wow, most of a year ago! didn't realize it'd been that long.) among the other cool things like it being really much easier to haul a lot of groceries around, it's finally causing me to act more like my parents, at least on one point, and a relatively good-for-me one. they've always been bargain shoppers and scoured out tons of coupons--it's a benevolent obsession. me, i'd normally forget to use any coupons i found, so i didn't bother much. with the cloth bags, i collect coupons IN the bags... so they're with me when i go shopping. plus, the market in downtown norfolk where i grab lunch and snack supplies has double couponing... so i'm slowly getting more addicted to the game. this week, i bought $22 of food for $12!
  • jesse's ship made it through sea trials! i might get to see my boyfriend again now and then! he even has a 3-day-weekend! oh, and there's some nifty video of the thing actually moving from the outside and (jesse's video) from the inside.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

donate your gift card leftovers

just happened to notice the link on the salvation army site while i was working on updating their local listings.

just happened to have exactly the kind of gift card they're looking for sitting in my wallet -- mostly spent, with maybe a couple dollars left that i'm pretty unlikely to use to buy anything.

it's a cool idea. and i can get rid of the card now without feeling like i'm throwing away money.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

50 years

this week marks 50 years since the norfolk public schools ended their state-sanctioned campaign of "massive resistance." rather than integrate, they shut the public schools down in 1958... and didn't reopen until forced to on february 2, 1959.

a lot of the norfolk 17, the first handful of black students who entered the formerly segregated schools, are still in the area and talking about their experiences. the current mayor and governor just apologized on behalf of the city and state.

it just blows my mind, though. as i quickly approach turning 30, fifty's suddenly starting to seem like not-such-a-big number, things that you can look up people to talk about instead of flipping through history books. 51 years ago, black schools and white schools. right here. defended by government.

i guess i shouldn't be so surprised that injustice recently existed in my society -- i mean, it still exists, just not this particular instance of it. still, it happened to strike me this morning as being really pretty unbelievable...

Monday, February 2, 2009


i've (mostly*) sworn off lindy travel that involves missing days at work. it struck me the other day that i haven't been out of the country since 2002... this is pitiful. i don't want to buy a transatlantic or further ticket without two weeks to make it worthwhile, therefore i'm weekends-only for a while. expect to see me a lot in d.c... remind me of this when my resolve starts to crumble.

* i AM going to use that free plane ticket voucher collected on the way back after new year's! not sure where yet, but that one won't go to waste.

this weekend was particularly and unexpectedly nice. jesse was on fast cruise, so i was halfway expecting to spend the whole time at home. instead, friday night, i went to see avenue q with victor and jay, then rode up to d.c. on saturday with jay. we hung out around the smithsonian for several hours, then met up with my college pals jill and carboni (i hadn't previously known that jill calls him "jack"... needless to say, nobody had trouble remembering their names). our attempts to start a singalong on the subway did not work, but at least they made us laugh a lot. dinner with them and another 6 or 7 lindy hoppers at an irish pub took a very long time -- the place was packed, and we were a big party. we missed more than half the dance, but i had a fantastic time socializing with everybody at dinner and can't really say i regret it. plus, coming in that late, i was able to have an awesomely intense awesome hour of dancing. afterwards, we went to a diner and drank milkshakes and danced to oldies... we crashed at samantha's, didn't get up 'til late, then made our way back to hampton roads. very good times.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


because my mom wanted some that i had, in fact, bought a chair...
granted, it's not much of a sitting chair, more of a curling up chair. those of you who visited my old knoxville apartment know i'm not much on conventional furniture--no chairs there, unless you counted the futon or the yoga ball. jesse has had a desk chair in the current apartment for a while, but this is the first chair i've owned in several years.

and this is approximately the least cluttered our living room has ever been. hurrah? (or maybe a sigh because neatness in my universe is directly related to unbusy time at home... and i obviously haven't been dancing or traveling or otherwise socializing enough lately. but at least i'd be a lot more comfortable having people over now...)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

new president

has anyone seen any good estimates on how many people watched yesterday's inauguration ceremony, either in person or via tv or internet? something more quantitative than "enough to break the internet"? (and yeah, i was on the cnn stream from work until it got too choppy near time for the ceremony... most of my floor gathered in the volunteer crisis line room to watch on the tv there.)

while yes, the speech was inspiring, and yes, it's a historical event no matter what happens from here out... the thing that got me most was the sheer number of people wanting to be there and wanting to believe that this guy can lead us to work together to make a better united states, a better world. if he can keep that goodwill and hope going even without a miracle cure for tough times, that's a mighty beast to leverage.

and i gotta give it to them -- starbucks chose an awesome moment to unleash their pledge 5 campaign, bribing folks with coffee for signing up for five hours of community service... hope it works.

hope it all works.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

half a year, illustrated

i'm uploading something like half a year's worth of photos today. not that i've had my camera out all that much. and it shows -- most of the ones i took toward the end of 2008 are extra-super-blurry. i still hate using my flash, but i've gotten worse at making things come out clear anyway. while i'm waiting on the rest to get to flickr, i'll post a few random shots...

in honor of the inauguration tomorrow, here's the photo i meant to post on election day, of people lined up outside the polling place in the rain:

the battleship across the street from my office:

at least the current apartment clutter is a little bit better than this, from when we'd moved in most things but unpacked almost nothing:

a heron in the park a few miles from here where i liked to go running back when it was warmer:

jaredan and davenne dancing in the park when michael q. and i took the crazy road trip down for chatta-atl-nash-knox-nooga-ville:

joanna, airborne during the charleston comp at lindy focus:

the roanoke star! (from the week i spent there training for my job in september):

husband and johnny in the interlude between nicci's wedding and the reception:

bush sr. speaking during the commissioning for the ship named after him:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

netflix instant play in ubuntu

(it's geeky. i warned you. but you can make fun of me for regularly destroying operating systems. and there's windows involved, but it's free for now...)

ok, so a while back, i installed ubuntu and realized AFTER damaging the windows partition that i didn't have my vista cd anymore.

honestly, i mostly don't really miss it. i've adjusted to amarok instead of itunes, star office instead of microsoft office... there's a free replacement program for almost everything. the one thing i hadn't gotten working, though, was netflix instant play movies. i missed it. i didn't miss it enough to justify the trouble it took to get it, but, er, once i get an idea in my head i can be a little stubborn.

when lifehacker came out with instructions for getting a windows 7 beta key, i went ahead and downloaded a copy.

then i installed virtualbox on ubuntu. and screwed up bigtime -- it needs your user account added to the group "virtualboxusers". instead of sudoing up and editing the /etc/group file directly, i tried to use a graphic group control tool. not sure what went wrong, but it cleared the /etc/group file of everything but the new group... resulting in a daemonic mess where most of the computer services didn't have access to necessary files and i didn't have access to admin powers and... well, let's just say it wasn't working so well. after a while booted into single-user mode with help from a fresh install's /etc/root file sneakernetted over from jesse's computer, i got back a lot of the basics... but couldn't get the networking to work. since the internet is my main source for all aid, i eventually got frustrated, backed everything up, and reinstalled ubuntu. total geek-fu failure, lesson learned, don't mess with that file unless you know what you're doing. but i have a nice, clean install now.

and set up virtual box again. and installed windows 7 on it. and it worked!

except the networking didn't. various blogs eventually pointed me to the fact that the virtualbox i'd gotten by apt-get install was not, in fact, the latest version. go to the webpage. install version 2.1.0. give windows the new, improved virtual network connection. and voila!

and... trying to run a netflix instant play movie in the windows media-based internet explorer player bluescreens my box. which is much less annoying than a traditional bluescreen, i have to admit -- unlike with a real laptop crash, i can go play/research on the internet while i wait for things to get back to normal. after tinkering and giving windows more hard drive space and more memory, i decide that the player's probably just not compatible with the beta internet explorer yet.

so i install firefox. and then netflix's silverlight player. and EVERYTHING WORKS! well, kinda herky-jerkily. but ramping the virtual box's base memory up to 1200 MB (which is more than virtualbox thought was a good idea given my modest laptop, but oh well) mostly fixes that... the audio gets smoother after a little tinkering with settings. it's good enough that i watched the first half hour or so of persepolis despite it being well past my bedtime by the time i got things working last night.

so, happy camper. i'll be happier if/when netflix gets things worked out with the DRM folks to support instant play for linux, but for now i have a ridiculous setup that more or less does the trick.

Monday, January 12, 2009

save the glen echo dance ranger

most of the lindy hoppers who've traveled to washington, d.c., for a dance event in the last several years have danced in the glen echo park, either in its spanish ballroom or its bumper car pavilion. it's really an incredible venue -- the ballroom is restored to its 1930s-era luster and comfortably holds something like 600 dancers. it's usually one of the main venues for DCLX, and we sweated our way to near-total dehydration there during a mid-june heatwave for jam cellar's big big event this year. if you add in regular saturday night dances with live music, it's really a big part of what's probably the largest swing dance community east of the mississippi.

recently, there's been a flurry of e-mails and a facebook group, all upset because park ranger stan fowler's been reassigned after 30+ years of service in glen echo. mr. fowler, it turns out, has been a driving force behind a lot of the restoration work there, and he's been instrumental in bringing the dance communities out to it. the washington post just put out an article that makes it pretty clear how much we owe stan... and clarifies that he still had things he wanted to do there in the few years he has left 'til retirement and didn't want the transfer (i'd wondered!).

so here's hoping! if you're interested in working with the d.c. dancers who're trying to get the decision reversed, look for the facebook group "Saving Glen Echo Dance Ranger" or join the yahoo group DanceRanger.


something somewhere between a cold and the flu had me for most of the last week. i've been referring to it the lindy focus plague based on the number of "i'm sick!" facebook statuses among fellow attendees -- seems i'm not the only one who had a really awesome time then got home and collapsed.

last monday, i was coughing my way along, still healthy enough to take unfamiliar buses to the norfolk airport after work to greet jesse on his return from california (i can't really claim i "picked him up" since he was the one with transportation) and pick up my bag, which had continued on its merry way there instead of switching to the later newport news flight with me. i have the sort of boyfriend who, even when he's been traveling all day, makes quite an excellent chicken soup and doesn't complain too much over being exposed to germs from a dance event he didn't go to.

despite the soup, i utterly failed at getting out of bed on tuesday. all limbs were suddenly convinced that gravitational acceleration had multiplied itself by ten over night. i think i tried to call in to work, but they finally called me -- i'd fallen back asleep before getting the phone dialed. i slept probably 20 of 24 hours that day.

wednesday was a bit better, but i was still dizzy and tired enough to stay home. thursday, i had already scheduled a routine doctor's checkup (yay health insurance kicking in!)... the hospital is a mile and a half away. a mile and a half isn't much of a walk under normal circumstances. it knocked me over. by the time i got to norfolk around noon, my floor full of moms/co-workers took a look at me and started yelling that i shouldn't be there. i did stay, and worked friday too, and i thought i was doing alright.

but comparatively... even with hours and hours outside in the cold on saturday for jesse's ship's commissioning (i want to write about that too!), the weekend made so much difference. this morning, i made it to the bus stop on time with ease. i didn't hit snooze five times despite having gone to bed later than i did any day last week. i wasn't dragging my feet by the time i got from one end of plume street to the other. it's the silver lining on these kinds of viruses... just when you start to think that life really is THAT hard, just when you get used to working around all the snivels and fatigue, lung capacity starts kicking back in. and all of a sudden, having what's normally "normal" energy is really, really fun.

the gym's still going to be hell. at least i have a slightly better excuse than the simple "failed to work out for three weeks."

and now jesse has the plague. i owe him some chicken soup.

Monday, January 5, 2009

it gets better...

after it became apparent that standbys for the 2 p.m. flight to newport news weren't getting called, i wandered back into the main hub of the airport. jesse's advice of trying to sneak into the USO (because apparently charlotte's airport USO is the best he's seen) wasn't looking so practical, so i got some frozen yogurt.

just about then, my old college pal wayne walks through.

the randomness really astounds me. i mean, i figure that my friends are probably somewhat more likely to be on the road than the general population (they tend to be an adventurous, shifty bunch), and a bit more likely to be going up and down the east coast than a random selection of americans, but the odds of being in the same part of the airport at the same time still can't be very big.

wayne was on the way back to new haven from huntsville. he had an hour layover time, so he too got frozen yogurt and hung out. time was very pleasantly killed.

airports are fun. (here's hoping my 6:00 flight goes out, though. even airports are better in moderation...)

Sunday, January 4, 2009


i hope i don't jinx myself by saying so, but i have a long history of pretty good luck with airplane travel. usually, my flights are on time if not a teensy bit early. i've only lost luggage once, and that was going to my parents' house on the way back from a year as an exchange student (back in the days when i had plenty of spare clothes there). In fact, that time, temporarily losing the luggage mostly just saved me the trouble of dragging my two huge bags around the airport to get through customs.

today's going pretty well that way. i'm on my way back from a pretty excellent christmas-new year's holiday (more on that later, perhaps?)... my first flight this morning, i got a whole row of seats to myself and slept soundly from nashville to charlotte. now, they've announced that they need passengers willing to fly into newport news instead of norfolk. free round-trip ticket up for grabs! newport news is actually closer to home than norfolk is... and buses run later from there.

so now i'm either flying in 30 minutes or 4.5 hours... no real hurry to get home. life's good, and i'm likely going to be taking at least one more plane trip in 2009.