Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Injured

A co-worker was hasty today, so I banged up my wrist and a toe. Thankfully, nothing appears to be broken. Still, this sucks a lot.

I am just so glad that nothing was broken.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Idiot Harley

I can't stand the way this Harley guy keeps chatting up the ladies in our cardio class and trying to impress them. As I've mentioned before, he tries to impress them by exercising his mouth, yelling out "Awoo! Awoo! Woof, woof, woof!" instead of putting any real energy into his moves.

I can respect this one guy who works out really, really hard. He and I are among the few that do. I can't respect a guy who acts like he's working out hard, but who's taking it very easy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sleepy

I'm sleepy and I have some signs to build. Darn.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Harley, you jackass

Harley is this guy at the gym who's pretty obnoxious. On Friday night, he was making off-color gestures around a bunch of women as he mimed a certain sexual act. He clearly thought this was hilarious. If you're a high schooler, maybe it would be. Grown men should know better than to do this in a public place.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

About offshoring... I'd like to post the following excerpt from some net acquaintance of mine. I've cleaned up the spelling, grammar, and punctuation a little bit, though.

This anecdote is about Mary, who discovered outsourcing about 4-5 years ago. This was great! she said. She worked hard and tirelessly outsourcing most of her area. One day, after work, she was telling me how great it was. How the cost savings were tremendous. She had laid off about 20 people (most of here area).

I remember asking...why stop where you did?...why not outsource....you? I bet someone from India could do your job for 1/10th your salary...saving the company a couple hundred thousand a year! heck...they could probably even do it better because they are with the India team while you are back here.

(I said it much more diplomatically than that.)

I saw a glint of fear in her eyes...immediately squelched. "OF COURSE, they can't outsource ME! I'm important! I add value!"

Less than one year later she was laid off. Her position is now in India. She actually cried her last day. The bitch laid off about 20 people...caused much misery and she CRIED when she was led to the gallows she made? No sympathy here.

That's the thing about outsourcing. If we are going to pursue it, let's pursue it with more rigor. If outsourcing is so good for America...let's look at outsourcing some of the lower executives...see how it goes. After that...do we really need CFO's and the like in America? Couldn't a really smart Indian work better and cheaper?

Sounds stupid...but why? They are smart folks. They can do it. It only sounds stupid to the execs because you only outsource too-high paid prima donnas like programmers and such...not people who do real work like Execs!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Last night was a bust

So last night, I drove through a snowstorm to this bar where a friend of mine was celebrating his birthday. It's a respectable bar where people get together on Thursday nights for swing dancing.

Driving was a real challenge. The snowfall wasn't heavy, but visibility was bad, and the driver's side windshield wiper wasn't doing its job very well. It was hellacious, I tell you.

What's more, the DJ decided that he would mostly play Latin music rather than swing music. It was a bit much, and as one of my friends commented, most of the regulars weren't on the dance floor very much. It was mostly occupied by the visiting ballroom dancers.

I've got mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it's nice to make the visitors feel welcome. However, if the event is meant to be a swing night, shouldn't at least 75% of the music be swing tunes? Instead, it was about 60% latin music (plus some rather marginal swing numbers).

The DJ was a friendly guy, but he tends to be kinda flamboyant. It shows in the way he moves and dresses. I don't want to begrudge him that, but... oh, I don't know. I get the feeling that this colors his musical choices and dance style, neither of which fit swing very well IMO.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Portuguese

I wish that I understood Portuguese more. Because I can understand some Spanish, I can make sense of it in written form. For example, I can kinda make sense of a lot of the stuff on this website.

I can only do so with difficulty, though. It'd really help if I knew more Spanish and if I could understand Portuguese grammar.

BTW, I was both amused and annoyed once when a friend of mine was counseling a woman from Brazil. This friend jotted down the woman's race as "Portuguese." I won't complain too loudly, since this friend is a wonderful caring woman who meant well. Still, it was a bit of a surprise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Balboa follows

My balboa class was frustrating, since we had more than three times as many leads as we did follows. That made it really difficult to learn.

I should be thankful that most of the follows in our class were pretty good. A few had taken some balboa before, and most of the others had a decent sense of how to follow. (I envy them. I don't mean to imply that their job is easy, but the reality is that it's much harder for the leads. There is a lot more pressure on us to get everything just right, and it drives me nuts at times.)

One lady in the class was utterly problematic, though. I just couldn't get her to move. She was sluggish, even when given a proper lead. I get the sense that she simply didn't have any energy. It's not a question of fitness, mind you, since I know a lot of gals who aren't skinny and yet can move quite well. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Balboa

I took some balboa lessons this week. That was tough. There are all these little nuances that I can't quite get, such as getting the right amount of pulse in my movements. Also, one of the instructors said that I'm pulsing too much in my upper body, which I don't sense at all. I don't doubt her word, but I just don't feel it.

I can get the footwork right, even though it's not really smooth yet. For some reason though, I keep losing it, especially when performing the out-and-in moves. I also have problems with the crossovers, for which I need a lot of fine-tuning.

I'd like to invest in some private lessons, except that they cost a lot of money. Also, I don't think I have enough potential balboa partners to justify this expense.

Monday, March 22, 2010

No Harley

That jackass Harley wasn't at the cardio bootcamp class tonight. Yippee! He's the buffoon that I've mentioned who keeps howling and barking like a dog, even though he's putting in very little effort. Every now and then, he'll pour some energy into his high knee raises, but for the most part, he works at a fairly low intensity level and yet barks and howls around to make himself look all bad*ss.

I love it when he's not around.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tips for inexperienced writers

Here is an article that details various tips for unseasoned writers. It's written in Spanish though.

Actually, I suspect that it was run through an automated translator. I kinda doubt that any actual human was involved in generating this translation from English.

And boy, there are an awful lot of lackluster writers out there. I wonder if the schools have been doing an adequate job of preparing people with writing skills. I doubt it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lindy

I once attended a lindy hop workshop/exchange where it was clear that some of the participants didn't even know basic east coast swing. It seems to me that people should have a basic grasp of swing dancing before they attempt a lindy workshop -- not unless the workshop is geared toward absolute beginners, that is. It got to be kinda frustrating.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mutt and Jeff

Whatever happened to the old Mutt and Jeff strips? This comic strip was a cultural icon, and yet no compilations appear to be available. Interesting.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Love Boat Angels

I've been watching "Love Boat Angels" on DVD, the two-part season four premiere of Charlie's Angels.

Not very entertaining, despite the presence of three lovelies. Also, while I'm not terribly critical of Shelley Hack, I do see why audiences didn't warm up to her the way they embraced Kate Jackson, Jacklyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett-Majors or my personal favorite, Cheryl Ladd.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Preston

He was a most difficult person, and that's putting it mildly.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dancing friend

I was talking to a friend of mine on Saturday. She's really more of an acquaintance, but I'll call her a friend.

She has had some ballroom dance experience, and I saw that she knows how to follow when I tried to teach her some hustle. She picked it up quickly.

I was gratified to hear her comments on the typical dancing that goes on at the singles events we go to. She said that the shake-and-sway kind of dancing is really kinda dumb. I was so glad to hear her say that, as it's exactly how I feel.

The politically correct answer it to say that it's all okay, that it's all good. I'll defy PC conventions, though, and say that the mindless shaking around is really kinda dumb. It's almost always stupid and it lacks art. It can be fun for a while, but a whole night of it? Really dumb.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why don't fast food joints usually sell fruit?

Somebody once asked why fast food places don't normally offer pieces of fruit as part of their menus. There are some, mind you; for example, Subway sells bags of apple wedges. By and large though, they don't.

I think there are several reasons for this. One is that fruit doesn't tend to keep very well. Apples and pears tend to get brown as they age, for example. Fruit also tends to be expensive in comparison to, say, a bag of potato chips.

Ultimately though, the main reason is demand. It's why KFC stopped selling rotisserie chicken back in 1992. It's why the McLean didn't take off, and why I sometimes find it hard to get a grilled chicken sandwich at McDonald's. Your typical fast food customer doesn't care much about nutrition, and so he'd probably prefer a cookie over a bag of fruit.

I'm not just speculating, mind you. I say this based on my observations of fast food customers. Also, the manager of a fast food restaurant once told me that they sell close to half a ton of french fries in a week, but only about ten cups of cut fruit. That's America for you.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pi!

Happy Pi Day!

3/14

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tipping nazi

I once had a roommate who was a tipping Nazi. That is, whenever a group of us would go out to dinner, he's insist on computing a 15% tip for everyone does to the last center. He also insisted that we should never use pennies in our tips.

I remember two people objecting to his heavy-handed insistence. One person pointed out that it's a waste of time to compute everything down to the exact cent, and that people should feel free to tip more or less depending on their preference. On another occasion, one person pointed out that pennies are legal tender, and that there's nothing wrong with leaving them as part of one's tip.

And heck, consider this. These people work in a restaurant. If they don't like the loose change, they can always get it changed at the cashier's till. Indeed, that's what a lot of servers do.

Mark was a really interesting character, I tell you.

Friday, March 12, 2010

So annoyed

I am so annoyed.

I wanted to get some housework done, as well as some progress in preparing my income tax filing. Instead, I had to stay late at work and take care of some rather aggravating tasks. It didn't help that I kept getting interrupted.

Actually, I could have gotten home sooner, but I had already decided to go out and meet some friends. I did not want to give that up, though it would have made life simpler.

So annoyed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More about the 60s and dance music

Here is a follow-up comment on the issue of dance music in the 60s. Again, it has been edited for content.

This article lists ten of the most popular dance songs from that era (http://oldies.about.com/od/buyersguides/tp/aatpdances.htm). Note that the 60s tunes are all from the EARLY 60s (1960 to 1962) and have an unmistakable 50s flavor. "Mashed Potato Time" was influenced by a similarly themed song from 1959, for example, and the corresponding dance reflects that.

Now, one can certainly shake it around to music from just about any era, but I was thinking more in terms of stylized dance. The list above mentioned "Madison Time," for example, and that's by no means a "shake it around" kind of dance. In fact, I suspect that most people nowadays have never even heard of the song.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sixties were NOT a great time for dance music

I was amused to see somebody declare that 60s music was great for dancing. She said that this is what her father steadfastly declared to be true.

Personally, I don't understand how ANYBODY with any knowledge of 60s music could make that claim. I like the following response that somebody posted. It has been edited slightly for content.

Oh, there's certainly some [good dance music from the 60s], but IMO a lot of the most popular music wasn't. You could still dance to it, but I wouldn't say that it was really MEANT for dancing.

The Beatles were the #1 band of the 60s, for example, and their music was mostly for listening pleasure. That's why Don McLean cryptically referred to them as the sergeants who played a marching tune. In fact, I'd say that their most danceable tune was "Twist and Shout," and it was a cover song. (At this recent dance, they played a lot of Beatles songs. You could shake it around to these songs, but IMO they weren't very good for "real" dancing.)

IMO, the most danceable music from that era came from the early 60s and still had a lot of 50s influence ("Runaround Sue" and "The Twist," for example).

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

How to exit from the tandem Charleston position to hand-to-hand Charleston

• Perform the same moves as with the tandem Charleston turn, except that on the second kick, you kick your right foot to the left instead of to the right. This places you in a hand-to-hand position
• The tricky part here is that the lady shouldn’t anticipate your move. This move is similar to the standard tandem turn, so she needs to be sensitive to your lead. This also means that you need to move decisively and on time.

Monday, March 08, 2010

How to do a tandem Charleston turn

• On count three, start to turn your right hand clockwise and over the follow’s head
• Use the remaining five counts to turn her completely around. Perform two right kicks during this process.
• Link back up again

As a variation, try turning yourself in this process. This means that on count three, your left foot will have to start turning clockwise. You should turn slightly ahead of the follow in order to lead this properly. You will also have to switch hands behind your back.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A few tandem Charleston tips

• Keep your hands facing upwards, cradling the follow’s hands without grasping them
• Use your arms to guide her motion like a choo-choo train
• Keep a bit of bounce – a pulse – in your steps

Saturday, March 06, 2010

To get into tandem Charleston from a hand-to-hand position

• Start with the hand-to-hand turns, first with the right hands, then with the left
• On the next right-to-right connection, lift your right hands higher into the air instead of keeping them at waist level.
• Using your right hand, turn her clockwise. During this time, step on the right foot, then the left.
• Kick with the right foot in order to sychronize your steps
• Launch into tandem Charleston

Friday, March 05, 2010

Boogie woogie moves

• Try a kick-ball-change in place of the rock step
• Try a pas de bourrĂ©e in place of each triple step
• Try kicking lightly, alternating left and right, such that on every other kick, you kick between the partner’s legs
• Do a hands-free tuck turn in which you rotate the woman by 180 degrees
• Catch her free hand using your left hand, then push her into a free spin. Catch her back as soon as it becomes visible during the free spin, then cradle her back into a closed position.
• From a handshake position, turn her quickly through 540 degrees, placing your right hand on her right hip. Depending on how she reacts, her left arm may wind up in front of you or on your shoulder. At this point, do a rock step, then boogie forward lightly.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Other blues moves and tips

• Try a four-count turn, a la hustle
• Try a four-count turn in which you turn the woman quickly, build up energy in the connection, and then release it gradually
• While in the standard open position, turn her quickly through a 360 degree arc such that you catch her left hip with your right hand.
• Turn her back around, preferably through a tight circle. Of course, how good this turn looks will depend a lot on her own ability.

What do we do after that? I'll have to refresh my memory, though I can see that one can catch her back again or resume an open position.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Drag blues moves and tips

• To move forward, use your legs to move the follow’s legs
• When moving backwards, stride back confidently, pushing off a little bit with your legs
• When turning slowly, turn naturally. To turn faster, more or less pivot around your central feet
• Try this move when turning quickly. Let go of the woman’s back on the third beat, and then catch her with your left hand on the fourth. During the next four beats, use the built-up energy to turn her and catch her with your right arm.
• Relax the shoulders.
• Avoid leaning back too far. This will tend to throw her off balance.
• Try to blend the moves together. Blend the lateral moves with the turns.

I have a lot of trouble with these moves. In part, it was because I had some follows who couldn't do some of the faster spins. They moved like they were kinda old.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Recording some swing dance tips

Over the next few entries, I want to record some stuff that I learned recently at various swing dance lessons. These will focus on some blues, Charleston, and boogie woogie moves.

Why? Because jotting the breakdown of these moves is helpful to me. It would be even more helpful if I could watch some videos of these moves; however, the mere act of writing these notes helps me remember them more. Besides, a video wouldn't necessarily capture certain fine points that I need to remember.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Sore legs

My legs are really sore.

I got a really heavy workout last night. Had an hour of some of the most intense cardio bootcamp work that I’ve had in a while. Our instructor, L, is a nice person, but she sure doesn’t act like one during the class. She says, “R is the nice one. I’m not. I’m going to make you work hard!” Yeah, baby!

After that, I had 45 minutes of Muay Thai training, followed by half an hour of Cage Fitness work. Boo-yah! I was exhausted as a result, and I was thoroughly wiped out when I went to bed. Totally worth it.