Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mad Again

I hate you, MetaFilter. Hate you. Hate.

When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth

Come On Sucker, Lick My Battery

I've watched two episodes of "Flight of the Conchords" on HBO, and it's hilarious. Especially the musical interludes.

Fresh Air Interview (June 14th, 2007)
NPR : 'Conchords': Musical Comedy from Clueless Kiwis

The do a live version of "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room." But here's the episode version:

Oh, here's "The Humans are Dead." Even if it doesn't grab you, hold out for the binary solo at 1:38 (so geeky!).

Here's a live performance of the same song. Again, the binary solo is great, but the highlight in my opinion is the imitation of old-school speech synthesizers at 2:50:

It's Not That Hard

Elizabeth Edwards shows that it just isn't that difficult to make Ann Coulter look bad. Just give her enough rope. She even brings her own shovel for the pre-hanging grave-digging.

Al Franken does a reasonable job as well:

Monday, June 25, 2007

Legion of Rock Stars

Previously covered the song "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam. Well, here's the Legion of Rock Stars version. What's LRS?

Legion of Rock Stars (LRS) pioneered Pure Pleasure in which the band listens to original recordings of classic rock and pop songs on 30db noise-blocking headsets, and then plays along.

Freed from the shackles of practicing, LRS focuses instead on bringing the excitement of a large stadium rock show to the intimate arenas in which it performs.

Milk just came out of my nose.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Can't Stay Mad

Oh MetaFilter, you waste so many hours of my life, but I can't stay mad when I you show me things like this:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sad, Sad Fan

Yesterday was the National Hockey League draft. I'm a Kings fan, and I'm a bit disappointed by their draft performance. So I'm cheering myself up by watching Anze Kopitar's rookie highlight reel.

Anze Kopitar's 20 2006-2007 goals for the Los Angeles Kings.

More Shamisen

Like I said, it's been a rabbit-hole of discovery.

Shamisen vs. Tap:

Shamisen vs. Taiko:

Shamisen vs. Shamisen:

Shamisen vs. DJ:

(I admit that it's not as interesting at the others)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yoshida Brothers

John Remy posted a few days back referencing the Yoshida Brothers, which has sent me on a rabbit-hole path digging up and listening to their non-traditional shamisen music. The piece he referenced was nice, but here are some of my favorites so far:


Where have I heard that before?! Oh yeah:

Storm (TM Mix) to some random anime:

Tsugaru Jongara:

They seriously rock.

Too Much Dancing? Part 7


Atomic Classes:
I'm running late for the 6:15, and Jenny throws me in as a follow! Real nice! Actually, it was a lot of fun and really good practice. Couldn't even tell you what the moves were, but I did get in some work on doing turns. Jerry points out that I'm moving my feet first then unwinding my torso instead of turning my whole body at the same time. I'll have to work on that.

Crecia Krysia is a bit late for the West Coast Swing Moves class, but not so lat that I have to follow for more than a few minutes. Whew! Neat class, but I realize that I'll have to perhaps find a WCS studio if I want to learn WCS. Cool class by Darren.

Tandem Variations with Darren. Darren assumes basic knowledge for an advanced class, still, while I think most of us taking the classes are really just intermediate. I still really like this class, but fear that most of the content I lose right away. I'm still really just anchoring the entry into partner/tandem. No matter how many times we breeze over the entry on the way to something else, I haven't really done it enough to say that I have it down. Perhaps in teams? Probably not. Grrr... I'll have to just do it over and over again socially, I think. New project? Oh, we did some Hacksaws in Front Charleston position. I'm not sure of the rhythm of the hacksaw, though. Still just regular Charleston rhythm, like the pendulum? Or faster? Hmmm..

Social dancing: I do some tandem with Crecia Krysia and tell her that our dances together from now on are going to be things I'm not that comfortable with. :-) She's my "try new stuff out" partner, now. That being said, our entry into tandem isn't that clean, but I successfully lead a turn and the exit into cross-kicks. I got to do my "is that your boyfriend?" followed by dancing at arms length joke with Chelsea (really pretty follow who is mainly as salsa dancer, I think. Our loss if she does salsa on Friday instead of swing). Dance with Jamie again (and remember her name after anchoring an association). Lots of dances with beginners, which I still enjoy. The toughest dances are the ones with gals who don't know even the basic footwork. Should I ask if they want an impromptu lesson? I feel like I'm pushing things when I ask if follows want guidance on dropping the last triple of an underarm turn. Maybe I'll start asking for the true beginners. Or point them to the classes. Is that rude?

Club Dance classes. Aubry teaches some new stuff she came up with which completely blows my mind as the ballroom dances always do. She's right that doing this type of dance makes the follows more attuned to shifts in rhythm that follows might make. But I still don't know enough about the various dances to do the club dance. I bail. As I'm walking out, I stop to talk to Brock, and Chrissy comes to chat with us. Well, no, she comes to talk to Brock. Another diss. I'm really not imagining this. But I have work on letting go of that stuff. Or holding on to it and letting it fester. Yeah, maybe the latter. :-)

Friends, Food, and Flowers

Went to Meeting and lunch after with the Youngish Friends. Remys, CatBonny, Animaumbrae, SS and Mr. SS, RKW, though EVH and AA both bailed).

Again attended meeting. No lunch this time, but Jana invited me to dinner with the Remys. Hooray! EVH gives me some flowers. I'm greatful, but flash back to my last birthday. Ok, here's the horrible truth: I got some succulents, just about the easiest plants to care for. But I managed to kill them with my brown thumb.

So very tired from a full day of dancing, but I head out to SS's for a quick morning ride along the San Gabriel river trail. Shower and a rushed trip to Intro to Quakerism at the Friends Meeting nice chat with Jo Tyler, the co-clerk. SS gets there a bit later (I got the first shower), and we continue to chat until meeting for worship. During meeting for worship, I manage to fall asleep a number of times. EVH later tells me she counted 3 times I was asleep. I didn't have the heart to tell her what I was counting, but it might have had something to do with London and France.

Oh yes, dinner with the Remys again! Mmmmm... Ratatouille! Mmmmmm.... Apricot-Lavender compote! Mmmmmm.... Comfort-time with friends!

My flower's not dead! I've been watering it regularly and everything! Though I haven't removed the pretty paper. Some other time, maybe. And the bigger pot off to the left is the planter full of succulents I got for my -last- birthday. :-(

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Too Much Dancing? Part 6


Atomic Ballroom Classes:
Bal/Shag - Jerry
Bit late, but we get through enough of it to get to get to the crazy spike-out section.

Lindy Styling - Jenny
Crazy, not-applicable to social dancing class, but I still loved it! Slip-slops, Jenny? Really?! :-)

Charleston Variations - Darren
Partner Charleston variations. Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!

Social dancing waaay too late.


9am - Meet at Atomic for a couple quick run-throughs. I get paired with Amanda, who's just awesome. I drive up to Beverly Hills with Mark and Michelle in tow to take an aerobics class from Richard Simmons at his studio, Slimmons. Surprised at how much fun it was! After the class we performed Jeep Jockey Jump (participated), See-Saw (don't know it, yet), and taught a class for everyone on The Madison. Such a blast! Should have looked up the venue ahead of time and invited S.L. to at least watch. Whoops.

Team caravaned to Dinah's Family Restaurant, for lunch. Eli, Liz, and I split two courses: Spanish omelette, and a large apple pancake. I honestly could have stopped after a third of the omelette, potatoes, and toast, but had to partake in the apple pancake, which was more dessert or tart than pancake. Yummy, and highly recommended. Good way to order, too as the omelette was quick, but the pancake took 20 minutes (according to the menu).

Back to rally at Atomic. We're performing again this evening at a youth ballet recital. Michelle didn't plan on going, so she takes off. I take Mark to get his shoes from home, and we meet with the group at Milikan High School in Long Beach. Really nice performance hall, cool stage, cool lighting, etc. Hopefully we get a good performance video out of it. We run through, decide on entrances and lighting, then wait for the performance time. I didn't realize it would be so late, and that I'd have to miss Catbonny's party. Oops. Also, this is really close to S.S.'s place. I should have invited her and Mr. S.S. to come watch. Oops again.

Lots of down-time. Krystina lets it drop that she wasn't told about Richard Simmons and showed up at the normal practice time. Wow, that sucks. Bill is frantically pacing around and nervous (I don't think he has the See-Saw choreography down yet). I try not to let it be contagious. We even try to reassure him that he didn't stick out during the rehearsal run-through, but he thinks we're poking fun at him. We eventually move the waiting outside, where it's nice and mild (what a beautiful day!). We goof with each other, and Steven manages to chase away all the gals who sit with us with his joes. MILF humor, Steven?! In front of women?! Really?! No Steven, I don't want to sleep with all the mothers of the ballet dancers, and I don't want to completely close the door on dating someone on the team by sitting in on a MILF joke!

Finally the recital starts, and we're up 10 minutes in. NOW, I'm nervous! Performance goes very well, but we get nothing back from the audience during the run. Used to getting some clapping going during the A and B split of the team, but this time, no. Jenny confirms this and someone else points out that they probably don't know that it's ok, since all the other acts are ballet, where it certainly isn't ok. Good point.

Hurry up and wait some more. Head up to watch See-Saw, and clap from the wings. Do I detect some audience clapping this time around?! Jenny and Will's aerials are breathtaking.

Proposed 3rd performance of the day in front of the ballroom social dancers is canceled due to lack of participants able to make it (3 couples for Jeep Jockey Jump and only two couples for See-Saw). Some other time.

And thus ends a very long day. Coming soon (if Crecia Krysia's to be believed), my picture with Richard Simmons.

Too Much Dancing? Part 5


Tuesday night at Atomic Ballroom

Hittin' the Breaks: Darren
Mostly about various Quick Stops. Neat.

Modular Lindy: Jenny
Footwork Variations under a different name. Again, I nominate and work on Kick-Cross, Tap-Ball-Change (on 7-8-1-2). I think Mark hates me for that. :-) Jenny also throws us step-hold instead of triple-step on 3-4.

Social dancing: I totally do the footwork variations from class (and some others) with Crecia Krysia. She says she definitely feels the step-hold on 3-4 of a swing-out. Also did kick-cross tap-ball-change. No slip-slops.

As the night winds down, I get turned down for dances twice by a couple of very good dancers. Once by a gal who was in a conversation, "Maybe in a bit." Second by whats-her-name [Chrissy] who was talking to Scott and desperately pretended to not hear me ask (in my mind, anyway). I hold a grudge. Those two are on my shit-list. I know I shouldn't take it personally, but I do. Maybe this is more because I make it a point to not turn anyone down for dances, or if I do because of need for water or speed of a song, I make it a point to search out that person immediately. Or maybe because it makes me feel insecure (Did I dance badly or hurt someone who's bad-mouthing me?).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Safran and Mormons

I don't remember which friend of mine told me about the Aussie television show "John Safran vs. God," but I find it really interesting. Perhaps my LDS friends will get a giggle out of this segment:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bah Humbug

Yes, Paul Potts singing a bit of Nessun Dorma was neat to watch.

But here's Andrea Bocelli doing it:

And here's Pavarotti:

My point is that it's an amazing piece of music, and a good performance of it will send chills up your spine. Combine that with an unassuming look, and you have your TV moment. But is he a professional level talent? I wonder.


Following up on my food thoughts from earlier, I saw this post from the Feathers Off blog, on their pasture-raised, no-stress chicken "schooner" method. Here are the pictures of the construction and here's the earlier write-up of the philosophy behind it.

As much as I admire the vegetarian discipline, my gut feeling is that it's more environmentally friendly for land to be farmed with animals rotating into the mix to fertilize the land. And everyone knows there are more nerve endings in your gut than in your brain.

The first time I opened Peter Singer's ''Animal Liberation,'' I was dining alone at the Palm, trying to enjoy a rib-eye steak cooked medium-rare. If this sounds like a good recipe for cognitive dissonance (if not indigestion), that was sort of the idea.
Those are the opening lines to Michael Pollan's article, An Animal's Place which discusses society's increasing extension of moral consideration to animals, along with the growing awareness of the cruelty and brutality inflicted upon them in our food supply. (The contents of the article are included as a section in The Omnivore's Dilemma). It's really difficult for me not to gush about Pollan's informal, intelligent, accessible writing style. See, I couldn't even finish the sentence without gushing. Totally worth a read.

Pollan focuses on Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm, which focuses on local marketing, and pasture-based feeding of animals. Here's an article on the Forks Farm's experience with the Salatin model.

Another pasture-raised meat story:
Taste comparison of pasture-raised beef to grocery store Angus beef

Friends and Food

Spur of the moment invite to have dinner at the Remys and EVH on Sunday. Awesome time, as always. They've reconfigured the family room with the addition of a love-seat and a big, comfy chair. And yet, they still have tons of room. Makes me wonder about how efficiently I'm using my space (not very).

John has a summer project to work through Le Cordon Bleu at Home, a book which is supposed to teach classical French cooking technique to the home cook. Well, we had a lovely roast chicken, cooling cucumber salad, and a yummy fruit salad for desert. Success! We spent time chatting about food topics, with Jana staking out the "eat local" ground (despite STILL having not read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. I express my indignation that she hasn't read it, and the conversation naturally flows to my long-ago promise to lend them my copy of Pollan's Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World Didn't they actually have it in their possession when they relayed it back to me from SL?! I'll have bring it back to them, I guess. And what a shocker, someone brings up Jared Diamonds's Guns, Germs, and Steel. That someone might have been me.

John is staking out the position that there are other things which need to be taken into account other than how local a food is. Like general environmental impact, immediate cost at the register, safety, etc.

I manage to discuss grass-fed vs. organic dairy without ranting about feeding grain to animals. Without ranting much about it, anyway.

Reminds me that this article has intrigued me:
The Red Label Bird with Gold Medal Flavor

I thought of it during Jana's discussion of a search for local producers, but what I like to think of as local, artisanal producers. Like Winchester Cheese, for example. I don't think we have access to artisanal poultry, though. Well, I do have access to eggs in La Habra, but I'm talking meat.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fortune 500

Recently watched the short film Kids & Money, at the New York Times Magazine.

It really made me mad. Seething mad. The bubble that these kids live in is just amazing. Great argument for school uniforms. Wow, now I feel old.

Until money equates to hours of your life, I don't think you should be able to spend it.

Some quick questions, though. Can you be comfortably middle class if the parents share a bedroom with their children? And did that girl think the Fortune 500 was a list of the wealthiest 500 families?

I'm thankful for the contrast the piece showed between the excess class and the working class, or I might have felt even madder than I do. I'm thankful that my parents never let me grow up at either extreme, and I'm thankful for what I have now.


My mother got me Robert Harris's Pompeii: A Novel for my recent birthday, and book junkie that I am, I read it in a single sitting. It's hard to nail down the genre; It's certainly a historical novel, taking place in the two days running up to the [spoiler alert!] eruption of Vesuvius, but it has elements of crime fiction, perhaps suspense fiction, geology fiction, and of course, civil engineering fiction. Wait are those last two even genres? There is quite a bit of commentary on aspects of life in the Roman empire, especially how those not in Rome viewed life in the Roman empire.

My main critique is that the compressed time frame makes it tough to ramp up suspense, flesh out the underlying crimes, or build truly deep characters with complex motivations. I could have done with some maps at the beginnings of chapters where there was travel. Diagrams of the aqueduct features in which key aspects of the action occurred would have been great.

I enjoyed reading it, but can't put it on my list of books I'd ever re-read. But I might borrow some other books by Robert Harris from the library.

I'm reminded of not reading the other volcanic eruption book I have, Simon Winchester's Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded.

I also find it troubling that books like this make me want to talk to a geologist friend about volcanoes. But that's a whole other issue.

Was there some subtle commentary on how modern society has become just thoughtlessly tied to our water projects? Hmmmm.... Fear of water scarcity in the Los Angeles Basin is one of my not-so-secret "hide under the bed" fears, so this might just be imagined. But seriously, what would we do if something (earthquake? terrorists? incompetence?) interfered with our water sources? We just don't have the water infrastructure for our inhabitants. I'm scared.

Another water-fear related book: When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Advice Badly Given

MetaFilter pointed me to Dear Cupid.

What an interesting idea, with a signal-to-noise ratio that isn't bad. Yet. But the language is... And I don't mean bad language.

Take the answer to this question (summary):

I will try to make this quick ,I been with my Man for 8 and half years , We are suppose to get married this year, I love him to death and a part of me is so ready. Problem is for the first 5 years he was unfaithful, loving him so much I settle for ...

You first need to decide which man you want as your exclusive relationship, as being with both will only harm your children. Your newest child deserves to have a relationship with his biological father (and he has the right to a relationship with his child). You need to be firm with your fiancée on this point, as his proposal of no contact with the baby's biological father is untenable. If that truly is the only way your fiancée will stay with you, then you will have to break off the engagement and end the relationship. Do the best thing for your children and their relationships with their respective biological parents (including yourself). I hope this advice has helped.

Not bad advice. Except that it was framed this way:

the father of the babii deserves to see his biological father ther fore u shud tel the father to ur other kid that wot he said cant work.. therfor u wil have to leave him. do it for ur kids and make sure every1 stays in contact with their biological dads and you. hope i helped.

[Original Post]

Too Much Dancing? Part 4

Happy Birthday to Me!

Morning team practice at Atomic: I'm 7 minutes late and miss the first run-through of Jeep Jockey Jump. And screw up the second by missing the switches and going into boogie-backs early. Whoops. We're performing twice next Saturday: Richard Simmons aerobics studio and at a high-school in Long Beach. Don't know any details except we're meeting at the Studio at 9am Saturday to carpool to Beverly Hills to take the aerobics class then perform.

We move on to learning the Atomic Routine, so I guess Mark, Liz, and I are ahead of the game. But I still forget to run-run. Grrr...

We stay for Swing 1 now, as does Liz, since she's ahead of the game on the Atomic Routine. Stealth promotion? Recognition that she's taking classes? All the extra dancing helps a lot, I think (and she is dancing a lot more these days; she was social dancing on a monthly basis, now it's weekly).

It's just Gerald, Liz, and I for lunch, which is very welcome. I can't imagine staying the third hour for Swing 2 practice. These classes are much more intense than the group classes during the week. I mention that it's my birthday, but that I kept silent about it so as not to have to do a birthday dance.

After lunch, I call Liz and ask her if she'd be interested in carpooling to Pasadena Ballroom Dance Associations Saturday night dance. She was once a regular there, and agrees to go.

What a cool night! It's quite large, between the sizes of Atomic and Lindy Groove, with a pretty cool live band for the night. The vocalist's audio is messed up, which is unfortunate. New crowd, slightly older, but very cool and with good dancers. I hold my own and preen at the "really? Only 3 months of dancing?" praise. They throw in a sprinkling of ballroom and latin dances for the crowd, but the vast majority of stuff is swing (15:1).

I manage to avoid a birthday dance. Whew!

I decide against adding OC Swing classes on Sundays. I'm burning out on those long days. Even tired at night classes at Atomic.

Technique with Jenny is pretty chatty tonight. We do some footwork variations and I suggest my kick-cross, tap-ball-change on 7-8-1-2, which Jenny likes. I get some praise again at the "3 months?!" which I bring up somehow. Jenny praises me on the progress of my social dancing especially. I take any and all praise. Thank you, thank you.

Atomic Routine works through to the tap section, focusing especially on the stuff right before that.

No Stomp-Stomp, which is good, as I'd arranged to bail and eat dinner with the Remys.

Top Cats Monday night Jam
I meet up with Cassie again. We dance quite a bit. She has a pronounced squat when doing swivels, which throws me off a bit. She's coming in a lot better on 3 of a swing-out though. I've decided that savoy kicks in Charleston aren't socially lead-able. Neither are the switchy-switchy thing either. But I still like doing them. Wait, Francis did it last week on Monday night! But she's one of the best follows I've ever danced with. She asks me to dance again tonight, and I don't give her as much variety. Her footwork still throws me off a bit, as do the breaks in the music. Afterwards, I tell her I'm not there yet, but I will get there. She's outside my comfort zone of skill gap, but I should be pushing myself.

Hmmm... Lead switches? Maybe I'll try that next time.

I chat with Alan in the parking lot for over an hour! Nice guy. He's trekking down to San Diego on Thursday nights to do some Jack and Jill competitions. He and Sky are good friends, which is probably where Sky got his background on me.

It would be incredibly geeky for me to wear a heart rate monitor to these things and uploading a graph of it.

Oops. Spike in the middle is the dance with Francis.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Resevoir Logs

Our vast, untapped, underwater forests?

Resevior Logs

very cool

Too Much Dancing? Part 3

Friday Night at Atomic

The social dancing is lots of fun, but I'm not spending a lot of time pushing my Lindy. I'm starting to get stale there. I should be pushing the Apache's and the 3-Wall (the next variation I want to work in). Also, I'm never switching my Apache back to the left hand, which I should be doing some of the time. What I am doing is working some footwork variations into my swing-outs, at slower speeds: kick-ball-change on 1-2, and an interesting kick-cross on 7-8 followed by tap-ball-change on 1-2 (tapping back).

I think I recognize a black guy with dreads on top of his head and shaved sides from Lindy Groove. I don't get a chance to chat with him, but I do overhear him mentioning LG. If it's the same guy, I remember thinking that perhaps he was a pro dancer in a different style who happened to Lindy also. Again, if it's the same guy, my impressions are a bit different. He's a really good dancer, but maybe not a professional. Perhaps he looked better with more up-tempo music?

Chatted with another black guy on the side-lines who was seeing swing dancing for the first time. His mind was blown, but he sounded like he was interested in it.

Earlier on: evening classes
The Bal/Shag class actually runs, unlike last week when we had a performance to study-up for. At first, I don't remember much, but it all starts to come flooding back from two(?) months ago when it was a series.

Johnny's drop is a quick Charleston variation:
Rock-step on 1-2 is away from the parterner in side-by-side Charleston.
Kick-cross on 3-4 with left foot for leads, lean forward on 4.
Rock-step on 5-6 starting with right foot, still leaning forward.
Step-hold on 7-8 with right foot, leaning back.

We work it into a routine:
Swing-Out from closed
Charleston Basic
Johnny's Drop
Charleston Basic
8-count Circle
"Tease The Girl" Entry to Tandem Charleston
Tandem Charleston Basic
Follow Turn in Tandem Charleston
Follow and Lead Turn in Tandem Charleston
Left-Hand Push-out and Return in Tandem
Right-Hand Push-out and Return in Tandem
Turn into Cross-Kicks

Hilariously, we have to go back and do the opening swing-out from closed three times before I'm doing it correctly (cutting off the follows during the triple on 3-4), and not like a Balboa come-around step (come-around on 1-2). I think it's hilarious to have to switch gears like that unsuccessfully, anyway.

The next class is progressive instead of doing the slips and slides. We pick up a short-haired red-headed gal (Michelle) who I've seen before (though I don't remember where). Jerry does his "barely tolerant of new people" thing, which is tough since we're incorporating Johnny's Drop which wasn't on the schedule for this class. Hope she wasn't looking for Slips and Slides. Nice gal, though.

I think we work in the 3-Wall too, but can't really remember at this point.

Too Much Dancing? Part 2

Tuesday Night at Atomic
No strong memories of the classes. Darren's was a blur of new moves which I never remember. Footwork Variations and Syncopations blur together into non-memory.

Good, long night of social dancing. Every new or new-ish follow I dance with compliments me on my lead, which is an ego boost. I'm doing my progressive East-Coast moves again, which is working out well for dancers who don't know any Lindy. I remember to add in the belt-buckle turn, but I think I'm not doing the whole thing the last triple-step.

I see Sky again, and dance with some of his gal-pals, one of them for the last dance. I introduce myself, but she already knows who I am from Sky mentioning that I've "been working hard on becoming a better dancer." Well that's true, and I'm flattered that I apparently made an impression on Sky.

I'm a junkie and decide to make my first outing to the OC Swing promoted night at Tia Juanas. I miss the class, but that's ok. There's no place to stash shoes and they don't want outside water, so I leave that all in the car. Sky was right, later on in the evening, I see some pro dancers out on the prowl. Weird to see some are smokers.

TJ's is a much smaller venue than Atomic, with lots more jostling, and virtually no room for swing-outs. Again, the music can be faster than I'm comfortable with. On the other hand, the pro dancers are fun to watch, and inspiring in different ways. Dave Graybill has very understated smooth social dancing style that night, while Mikey Pedroza is amazingly high-energy.

It's nice to dance with new people, but I bail after two hours when finding parters is harder and there's still no space to dance.

In the final analysis Atomic is still home base, if for no other reason than there's space to dance!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Too Much Dancing? Part 1

This is the last day of the current OC Swing Sunday Series. I make the 2pm beginner class, and have a lot of fun doing it. The first timers have come a long way in six weeks, but it takes more than six lessons to develop good frame and to really anchor the footwork, much less add variations. I think doing swivels might be ambitious for a six-week beginner class. Tough for me to remember to lead a rock-step at the beginning of the swing-outs.

One of the beginning class attenders, Cassie, asks me if I'm going to Top Cats Monday night. I can, with no more Maths, so I agree to meet up with her there.

I'm feeling so very tired after a long Saturday. I see Mark sitting, not looking like he's going to do Drags and Rags. I make the decision to bail on it too, and we decided to get some food. Or Jamba Juice, since it's within walking distance, and open. It's a beautiful day, so we sit outside and shoot the breeze about our progress as dancers, the previous night's performance, and where we're going. We end up deciding to bail on all the rest of the classes, and head to Atomic for their evening classes. This series has been a bit disjointed as Shesha and Nikki have been gone on the 3rd and 5th weeks. And I missed the 4th week with Knotts. So though I wanted the content, I don't feel I really got much from Drags and Rags or Spins and Turns. Perhaps we can pick Scott's brain later.

Atomic Ballroom:
Liz, Mark, Danie, and I are among the hard-core. Danie takes tap right before the swing classes start, so it there already. Technique Class is always nice. Atomic Routine (We Cats Will Swing For You) series gets us ahead of the game when it comes to team routines (I hope). I'm always forgetting to the run-run early on in the routine ("You're gonna pack your feet"). Stomp-Stomp is more than I can handle, as my brain starts to shut down, and my legs get wobbly. Plus, it's pretty darn hard.

Looks like Danie is driving on her own now. No excuse to not be on the team! :-)

Monday night at Top Cats. I'm late (9:15pm), and Cassie beats me up a bit about that. :-) Shesha plays much faster music than I'm used to dancing to, but he's catering to a much more skilled crowd of dancers, who want that faster music. Cassie and I mainly work on her swing out. She does swivels while hanging back on 1-2, but doesn't come forward on 3 enough for me to hold my ground. She doesn't want to abandon the swivels, which I understand (they look cool).

While I'm there, I talk to Sky for the first time. He's a really nice guy, who gives me some details on the OC Swing team, like the audition is the California routine and that it's really the kind of team you have to be invited to join. I -think- Frances told me last week that she just joined and that Sky is her dance partner. He talks about previously being centered at Atomic but moving on (after Peter Flahiff left?). He doesn't think much of the Atomic teams and mentions how he didn't see any of the male members social dancing after the performance. I'm assuming he doesn't know I'm on the team, and take it in stride. Mark is a big social dancer, but had to do ballroom performance as well. I wonder if Sky was thrown by the fact that most of us changed out of the team attire at the earliest opportunity due to the heat? At any rate, I like Sky, as he's the first OC Swing person who's approached me and been pretty nice.

Cassie and I exchange contact information, and I thank her for the reminder about Top Cats. It's a bit intimidating, as most of the dancers are really advanced, and the music is ... faster than I'm comfortable dancing at. But I think it's good to be outside of my comfort zone. It's how I was originally growing as a dancer.

Later on, I invite Cassie to the Atomic Team tryout. We'd probably need to practice before it, but she could get to the level pretty quickly if she has the time and wants to put in the effort. She hasn't been social dancing, though. I wonder how much she wants to dance?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

First Performance

Yes, there's a performance video in this post! Yes, I'm burying the lead lede!

We basically bailed on most of the class topics and just worked on the Jeep Jockey Jump routine with Jenny. I'm so very glad we did this, as the first performance is tomorrow.

Social danced to the wee hours of the morning.

Team Practice

We run Jeep Jockey Jump to get warmed up and up to speed. After rotating partners a few times and practicing some specific parts, Jerry moves around some partners and positions. I'm partnered up with Krystina, who's a terrific dancer. We end up as a "B" couple, that is, when the team splits, we do the "B" choreography. I personally think this is harder, as we have to start dancing after the "Lindy Hoppers Under Glass" pose, AND switch choreography. I'm also splitting the center of the "stage" with Jeremy. Hopefully the audience watches him tear it up, and not me messing it up. Yikes!

Jerry adds the "come in from the side doing something crazy" to the beginning of the routine. Really, Jerry?! Today, you add that?! :-) Krystina and I go through "pretend to ride the pony," to "act like a gorilla," "to John pretends to be a girl and Krystina pretends to be a man," but don't find anything satisfyingly do-able. Some of the stuff is just too slow.

We AB-only people get lunch after. I notice that Jeremiah's been staying to do the Swing 1 choreography. He seems to have quite a bit of experience in swing, so he's comfortable adding the new stuff in. He's even doing the special Baby Bop dance (one night only!).

I go for a bike ride with Diana. 30+ miles, awesome, but a killer. I see Brock and Jerry at an intersection towards the end of the ride, muscling a grill for the Baby Bop BBQ. How funny!

I shower up at the 24 Hour Fitness in Tustin that my brother works at. What's that? Worked at? Apparently he's back at a Sport club as of the first of the month. Good for him!

Quick stop at Costco for a contribution to the Baby Bop BBQ. I signed up to bring appetizers, and what's more appetizing than Louisiana Hot Links?! Ok, I bring pineapple too. No word from Trish on last-minute needs from Costco, so I head over to Atomic Ballroom.

I help as much as I can with the cooking, then chill out with food. Brock says he definitely recognized me when I shouted at him during the bike ride, and laughingly tells the story to Jenny and Will who clearly don't care. So I make sure that it gets drawn out as long as possible. Because I'm evil.

Nerves start jingle-jangling. I head to my car and dry-heave for 20 minutes. Jeremy tells me we're changing and meeting in 15 minutes. What?! That's closer to 9:30 than the 10pm I told everyone in my invitation. I change as fast as I can, then we wait and wait. Krystina and I decide to just skip out arm-in-arm with pointy fingers. We didn't get a chance to practice the routine at all during the evening, and I haven't done anything to warm up. so I do some social dancing, and find that the long-sleeved shirt keeps me from lifting my arms very high. Oh well.

And here's the video of the performance [20070620: New Video Link]:

I can see that I'm early on my Charleston footwork on the very last solo section, but recover. My "Shorty George's" need work at tempo, but I knew that. It was our best performance of the material to date, and the first public one for the current cohort of new team members. Yeah for us!

My mother says she only saw the last 30 seconds or so, and didn't get to tape at all. Sorry moms. :-(

Re-Cycle Part 4

I've been trying to get either B to answer me on whether we're going to have enough people for a a fast and slow group. I finally hear back on Friday night that we won't. SS goes on her normal solo morning ride and EVH cancels out due to work issues.

Then I hear that everyone but Diana and I have canceled. Strictly for the hard core! Only for the head-strong! Are you ready?!

Here's the map of the ride:

Ride w/Diana: Tustin - Back Bay (extended)
Distance: 31.2 miles
Elapsed Time: 2h
Pace: 3m 45sec per mile
Avg. Speed: 16 mi/h
Max Speed: 35 mph
Calories: 1685

Diana prefers to take surface streets to the trail, so we take Culver south, west on Walnut, and south again on Harvard. At Barranca Parkway, we get on the trail and head towards the back-bay.

Cadence vs. Time:

You can see that for the first half of the ride, I was a lot better about maintaining my cadence, running in the 95 rotations per minute range. The latter half of the ride sees me dropping off a lot more, doing a lot more coasting.

Cadence vs. Heart Rate:

You can see the peak where we rode the hill, and I hit 170+ beats per minute. There's a period later on where I sustain 160-165 for a period of time. That's a long flat section along UCI which Diana likes to really push. We're easily over 20 mph, and tickle 30 at a certain point (probably an underpass). Ouch.

Oh, and we take the street route to see the west side of the back-bay. No trip to Kean Coffee; Maybe next time, but Diana seems too serious a rider to want to take an hour off to people-watch. This route is a few miles longer, but that's ok, we're at about 28 as we approach the turn-off point from the trail when Diana asks if I want to extend the ride.

"Oh, come on, it's only 3 more miles or so at a slight uphill."
"Oh, ok."

So we did it.

Because we're awesome!

After the turnaround point for the extra three miles, we headed back to the staging point on surface streets. At a light, I saw a guy jump out of a truck and fiddle with a BBQ in the back. Realized it was Brock and Jerry heading to the Atomic Ballroom Baby Bop, so i shouted a hello. Don't know if Brock recognized me, but I think he did.

Re-Cycle Part 3


Memorial Day

Rode with LB and EB and their crew. Been months since my first ride with EB and my first ride with LB. They rode their tandem and the rest of our group (7 people total?) clustered around them. I'd previously met Grace at the LB-EB compound for dinner and Ultimate Fighting (she's a spin instructor and marathoner). One of the other riders (Caroline?) is a spin instructor. Diana is a triathlete who is taking a break from running due to shin splints.

We have to change a tube before we start, but eventually get going.

Ride w/24 Cyclists: Tustin - Back Bay
Distance: 24.5 miles
Elapsed Time: 2h
Pace: 4m 55sec miles
Avg. Speed: 12.2 mi/h
Max Speed: 29.1 mph
Calories: 1354


HR vs. Distance:

We made lots of stops (to avoid dropping the slower riders), which translates to inconsistent heart rate for me. You can see two peaks at 170 beats per minute at about the 47 minute mark and at 1h 5min. These were the climbs of San Joaquin Hills road where it dead ends into Back Bay Drive. I rode it once with Diana and Grace when we were the fast group. Caroline didn't make it due to a gear shift mistake, so when we returned, she and I rode it again. Ouch. The last peak at 180 was at the long straight stretch along UCI where Diana invited me to really push it with her. We rabbited, and held 28mph for a brief time, the fastest I've ever gone on a flat area.

HR vs. Cadence

My cadence is all over the place during this ride. Lots of coasting, quite a bit of slower riding not at tempo with slower riders. The B's, Grace, and Diana take off on the final stretch, and it's all I can do to hold on. My legs are made of lead at that point.

We all eat at CPK afterwards. I get the Tri Colore salad pizza and split it with Diana who gets the chicken tequila fettuccine, which is just as good if not better. Yum! Some of us will try to ride Saturday at 2pm. I'll try to work in EVH and possibly SS into the group if we do a slow and fast group again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

May Dance Wrapup

Get tentatively paired with Amanda at the team practice today for the performance of Jeep Jockey Jump on June 2nd. I'm pretty solid on the choreography, but get mixed up on the switch between A and B solos and the Shorty George's are still a problem at tempo.

Jerry asks most of us to move up to the Swing 1 team to learn the choreography. Gerald, Scott, Steven, Mark, and I agree we're not going to do this until after the first performance.

Later talk to Liz and Andrea who weren't asked to move up. We all agree that this could have been handled better.


After a tiring day at Knotts, I'd missed all of the OC Swing Sunday series, and one of the Atomic classes. I made it for the social patters (still anti-social patterns?!), and the mystery slot which might have been aerials.


Dammit! If there's a Double Bug class on the schedule again, I'm -not- taking it. I mean, it's never enough to anchor the thing, it's probably boring for the follows, and you need twice as many follows as leads! Stupid!

Did Nicole totally diss me at the dance tonight?! She turned me down for a dance siting a sprained ankle, but danced the song with someone else later on! You're on my eyes-narrowed-with suspicion list Nicole!

I take the last two club classes, which are fun, but the main point for making the trip to Atomic Ballroom is the informal team practice. That lags and lags, until I ask Trish if it's going to happen. She candidly tells me that Jerry doesn't want to empty the club dance floor of the team members who have come. At least we're getting the straight story, unlike last week.

We run it a couple times on the regular dance floor, and even do it to the music once for the 5 other people there for club night dance.

Jerry's Swing Rueda class is a lot of fun. Almost like square dancing. Find out the the "socks" swing out is really the "Sioux" swing out. The pronunciation comes from how the German guy who named the move pronounced Sioux. What a horrible story. :-)

I'm doing a lot of social dancing, but feel like I'm in a rut. I need to add another move or family of moves to not be boring. Again. To myself if to no one else.

Team practice. I wear a HR monitor, and here's the recorded results:

When we run the routine, my heartrate is way up there. You can even see when we run small parts of it instead of the whole routine. Wow. It's not the sustained effort of cycling, but it's certainly a lot of effort. Training Center says 2 calories burned, so it's clearly using distance as one of the main ways it calculates calories.

At lunch, I chat with Liz about the Team Unlimited lesson plan, and taking more lessons. I hope she does it. Not sure what Jerry thinks she needs to work on, technique-wise. Perhaps she needs that clarified? Andrea decides to quit the team. I'm sad, but perhaps if this is a negative thing in her life, she should do it some other time, or do something completely different.

OC Swing classes have guest instuctors Audrey and Sky, while Nikki and Shesha are up in the Pacific Northwest doing a workshop. Audrey's intro class is pretty cool, Sky's insights into Drags are interesting, and the Intermediate choreography is pretty cool, including the Chase entry into partner Charleston. Bailed on spins and went to Atomic.

Liz bought a Team Unlimited package and came to lessons tonight. Do I get a commission?! :-) I think she saw the value today with Jerry's Technique class.


Jenny's Dance Frame and Connection class was terrific.

I started to do a progressive series of moves in my East Coast.
Tuck Turn, Changing Places, 6-count Circle
Inside Free-Spin, Changing Places, 6-count Circle
IFS, Changing Places with hand switch. No-look walk-through
IFS, CP w/HS, block turn, Sioux Swing Out
I need to do the hand switch on that last series without ending up in the no-look position. Also need to work on doing the series without any basics in-between.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Friends and Re-Cycle Part 2

EVH and I ride from UCI down to the Newport - Costa Mesa Back Bay, break at Kean Coffee, and finish the Back Bay loop then return to UCI. Awesome ride for me, as it doesn't have the intensity of the previous day.

Oh, here's a map of the ride from earlier in the year:

Ride w/ EVH: UCI - Back Bay
Distance: 15 miles
Elapsed Time: 1h 30min
Pace: 6m 2sec miles
Avg. Speed: 9.9 mi/h
Max Speed: 29.9mph
Calories: 820

Again, a much less intense ride, more geared for EVH and my recovery than anything else.

We actually took over an hour break in the middle of the ride while at Kean. The perfect melding of iced turkish soy latte w/cardamom and snarky comments about the people coming into Kean. I was on the lookout for the deconstructed beach bum outfit. That might require some explanation. I was looking for the classic casual beach-wear ensemble of sandals, jeans or shorts, t-shirt, and sunglasses, but with every element being an expensive version of itself. $40 t-shirt, $50 shorts, $70 sandals, $100 sunglasses, etc.

The highlight was when I pointed out a very attractive woman who almost fit the bill.
1: Her olive top doesn't quite look pricey enough. But those definitely aren't $20 Target jeans.
2: Well, it's not a $20 ass.
1: You're right.
It's a very special kind of gal-pal who will girl-watch with you. You're the best, EVH.

Cadence vs. Heartrate:

Again, a much less intense ride than the day before. I'm barely breaking 100 beats per minute, which means I'm not working much. There's a spike just after the 35 minute mark which is the climb on Dover, just before we turn off to Kean. The spike at the 1 hour mark is a quick climb after we broke off of Irvine Ave to the Upper Newport Bay Regional Park. There was another spike around 1:20 which was a climb on the UCI campus which snuck up on me.

Good times!

Re-Cycle Part 1

DH calls to beat me up about not riding. I use my knee as an excuse, but we decided to go riding the next day.


Ride with DH: YL Regional Park to the Angel Stadium "Big A" and back.
Distance: 18.6 miles
Elapsed Time: 1h 17min
Pace: 4m 10sec miles
Avg. Speed: 14.4 mi/h
Max Speed: 24.7mph
Calories: 989

Perfect intensity, perfect distance. It really got me charged up and inspired to ride again.

Here are some graphs about the ride from my Mac version of Garmin Training Center (no info on mean cadence or cool Google Maps export).

First, Cadence vs. Distance:

You can see that I hover just under 95 pedal rotations per minute (that's what cadence is) when I'm in the zone. Also, it looks like the ride was over at 1hour 15min and I just forgot to stop the unit.

Next: Cadence vs. Heartrate

Anything below 135 beats per minute is outside of the very lowest part of my cardio training zone. Really, that should be 140bpm, but whatever. Anything over 150 bpm is difficult to sustain for long periods of time. Looks like there was a 15+ minute gap in the middle of the ride where my cadence and heartrate were below my training zones. On the other hand, there are a couple minutes of pure-stop there, so those time periods surrounded the turn-around point of the ride. There are also clear warm-up and warm-down periods, which is good training technique.

Many thanks to DH for riding with me all this time, and kick-starting me again, for that matter.

Friday, June 1, 2007

College Soundtrack #7

Any revolutionary musical movement will have it's purely derivative acts, and the Seattle sound (aka Grunge) had Stone Temple Pilots. This is tough for me to listen to now, but at the time, was a definite favorite. The album itself is ... well, lets just say it's possible to have long arguments about which contemporary bands were the influence of each track.

To be fair, I saw one of the Alice In Chains members state that their band was a record company assembly, not an organically assembled group of musicians. I think his words were "grunge boy-band."

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Even Flow - Pearl Jam
Waiting For Somebody - Paul Westerberg
Rooster - Alice In Chains
Hunger Strike - Temple Of The Dog
Plush - Stone Temple Pilots