Sunday, February 24, 2008

Waiting for Spring

RATS, year of

The CNY demo is over at last, and thank god for that. It was much more low-key this year than usual and also blissfully short, two more things for which to give thanks. I had the worst hair day of all time and spent the entire evening red-faced from the heat, but hey, I’m not in it for the glamour. I did my stuff right, made my wardrobe changes on time, and didn’t trip up my classmates, so I’m most thankful for that.

The puppet dance was a cool way to open the demo. It would have been interesting to hear the story behind it — I’m sure there is one — and to know who the performers were.

Just once, though, I’d like to demonstrate Eclectsis without having people “joke” afterward that they’re afraid of me. Especially longtime friends. That’s no funnier than saying you’re afraid of a T’ai Chi player. Just because Eclectsis looks more overtly martial does not mean its practitioners are more likely to pick fights, and it’s kind of hurtful that people’s knee-jerk assumption is to assume as much. Sure, they’re just joking around, but jokes have their basis in reality.

Anyway. I bought myself a new fan from MNKS last night, one that just happens to match my new robes. It’s the first weapon I’ve bought in at least six years. I guess weapons haven’t been my top priority lately. I would like to start giving more attention to my sword form, though. Practicing for this demo with people who are really accomplished with the sword reminded me of how far I have to go.

And speaking of the demo, if someone asked me how to make it better, I’d point out that the following should, but obviously don’t, go without saying:

  • Cell phones off. Post signs at the doors. Make announcements from the stage. Charge fines. Conduct pat-down searches. Do whatever you have to do to convince people to turn the damn things off.
  • No children under 6. No, not even your adorable moppets. Children who do attend should be accompanied by an adult at all times. They should not be thundering unsupervised through the equipment room or screeching up and down the hall playing hide-and-seek or sitting in the aisles of the audience. Parents who let their children run wild are being terribly inconsiderate of everyone who came to see and hear the demonstration. Yes, you.
  • Keep it quiet. Whether you’re sitting in the audience or waiting to go up and do your thing, be quiet. You’re at a performance. Act like it.

It would be nice if we could . . .

  • Leverage the tech. Hook up a feed from the video camera to display the goings-on in the equipment room or hallway so people who didn’t get a seat or can’t take the heat can see and hear anyway. (And by the way, what ever happens to these recordings? I’ve never seen one.)
  • Find somewhere to stash guests’ coats. Maybe we could set up garment racks in the sink area in the hallway, or in the corner by an artist’s studio — somewhere other than the changing rooms, which are crowded enough already.

In an ideal world, we could also:

  • Designate a backstage area. It would be nice to have someplace out of sight and earshot to store weapons and to congregate and prepare before going onstage.
  • Circulate the air. Better ventilation would help with temperature control, and especially with incense control. The smoke gets too heavy too fast in the space we’ve got.

Overall, I was happy about the way this year’s demo went (i.e., fast). My teachers and classmates never cease to amaze me. When Julie walks the circle, I see Sifu Ray. And when Sifu Paul does the Mother & Sons, I see Master Choi. Damn. I’ve “learned” the M&S set, but what I do looks nothing like what Sifu did last night.

Not so much the banquet, however. What was U Garden thinking? We were short of seating with nowhere to expand, and although we waited a long time to get food, some of it was chilly/soggy when it arrived. Conversation was nearly impossible thanks to the karaoke mania going on in the larger part of the restaurant, so even if there had been room to mingle and visit, no one wanted to. Clearly we did not have our hosts’ full attention this year.

Plus: Fried couch cushions in sesame sauce? Excuse me? Some people were calling it tofu, but they lied. I know fried couch cushion when I taste it. No es bueno.

OK, enough about last night. I’ll spend a couple hours today and a couple tomorrow looking over proofs of Real Gold Does Not Fear the Fire, the Master Choi book. I’m glad to have a chance to help with this. I’d be delighted to help out with future writing projects, too, but so much goes on under the radar, I don’t even know when to volunteer.


Monday, February 18, 2008

memory lane

Today I upgraded my computer's memory — all by myself! I popped the keyboard off, removed approximately 8 pounds of cat hair, removed a small metal plate, inserted the new chip, and put the plate and keyboard back on. Now the computer is quicker at doing several things at once, like letting me edit a Word document while the scanner scans something. It boots up a little faster than before, too. Sweet!

I know normal geeks do stuff like this all the time, but being mechanically disinclined, I've avoided doing physical repairs to my computer until now. So here's where I give a big shout-out to the nice folks at the Apple store. When I told them what I wanted to do, they:

  • looked up my model of computer to see how big a chip it could swallow
  • showed me how to remove the keyboard and metal plate and insert the chip by demonstrating on my actual machine — so I wouldn't have to pay them to do it
  • told me slyly where to buy the memory chip at half the price their store charges: crucial.com

See why I like Apple?


Sunday, February 17, 2008

what a big geek am I

What's cool: Finally getting my second computer monitor hooked up and working. Now I can put the article I'm copyediting on one screen and the Google search for fact-checking information on the other. Woot!

What's cooler: Watching a downloaded episode of The Colbert Report where his guest eats a bug on the big monitor while surfing the 'net on the smaller one. Oh yeah. Thanks, Mom!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

contra indications

YaBRRRR! It's -12 degrees here today, on the way to a high of 0. I am NOT going out, not even to the gym or the cat food store.

I don't really need to hit the gym today. Last night my friend Lisa persuaded me to go contra dancing with her, and it was a dandy aerobic workout. Also a lot of fun. Contra dancing is folk dancing, and it's "called" dancing — a guy like a square-dance caller tells the dancers what figures to do, and they execute them. We did the swing, which is basically spinning in circles with your partner, so much that I was still a little off balance when I got home.

We went early so I could attend the lesson for newcomers, which made participating in the actual dances easy and fun. We shook our folk groove thangs from 7:30 until about 10:30, so I consider that a worthy workout. And for once I wasn't the only one sweating. Several people changed their shirts during the evening's revels.

Fun fact #1: And speaking of clothing, many women who contra dance wear dresses or skirts that flare wonderfully during the swing and other numerous twirls. But why should the chicks have all the fun? A couple young men showed up in skirts, too, one wearing his over sweat pants and one over kilt-worthy knee-highs or hose.

Fun fact #2: The guy playing accordion and about four other instruments in the live band was Bob Walser, owner of a string of Twin Cities car dealerships. He chatted with Lisa and some of her many acquaintances during the break. Nice guy.

Small-world moment: I bumped into Joan, a coworker from the U, as we lined up for the first dance. I had no idea she did this sort of thing. I had a dance later with her gentleman friend, and he was very smooth.

Lisa had said there would be some eligible bachelors there to flirt with, but the only men I danced with reminded me either of the sea captain from "The Simpsons" or the dad from "Family Ties." They were sweet ol' gents and very generous to me as a newbie partner, but definitely not my dating type. *Sigh.* Maybe I should go back for swing dance night on Thursday.