Sunday, November 21, 2010

TSA: Tough Shizzle for All

Edit Update: I've just had clarified that the TSA requires either the Full Body Scan OR the Pat Down but not both. So all of the below was my personal delusion. It was fun while it lasted even if it wasn't based in any kind of reality !

This past week I flew out to see my nephew in his school's production of West Side Story. Aware that the airports were now host to the latest round of more stringent 'TSA Quality (of the passenger) Assurance' tests I arrived at the airport at what I assumed was a ridiculously long 1.75 hours before my flight was scheduled to take off. I was right and I was wrong. I was right to arrive that early, and I was wrong that arriving that early was crazy. By the time I got through security my plane was in line to take off in 5 minutes.

While waiting in line I mused at how progression of TSA procedures seems to have been totally and only reactive..

What ? people used box cutters as weapons ? OK, from now on no more blades.
What ? someone got explosive liquids on the plane ? OK, from now on restrict and inspect the liquids.
What ? someone had shoe bomb ? OK, from now on off come the shoes
What ? someone stuffed explosives in their underwear ? OK, from now on 'enhanced' search.

Now, what would the future hold if someone makes use of a 'false eye bomb' ? 'OK, from now on an opthamologist's inspection ?'

One poor woman waited her hour+ in line only to have her CA driver's license ID rejected because it had expired a few months ago.. So despite the facts that it likely was a valid license until recently AND the picture looked like the (maybe) passenger: REQUEST DENIED. Seriously, if I were to make a fake ID in order to slip past security, wouldn't I be careful to make the counterfeit appear to be valid ? I wished that I could have stuck around to see the outcome, but I was getting close to missing my own plane so I didn't.

I knew that I'd be in for the full body scan but I wondered if there was anything I could do that would decrease my chances of getting the 'pat down' treatment. We don't know (and shouldn't know) the methodology by which the TSA agents decide who gets it and who doesn't. It might be a blind sequencing algorithm or it might be up to the agent's discretion or a combination of both. Since I can't influence any machine like algorithm, the best I can to is to look as much as possible as the opposite of a threat. One would think that this would mean to look as ordinary as possible, but isn't that exactly what a 'threat' would do ? To try and be inconspicuous ? So I decided that since most of the people flying will probably be dressed in every day drab clothing or in business attire, I would be conspicuous but not over the top.. to look like I'm on vacation (which I was) and obviously NOT trying to hide something that I don't want people to see.

I wore the bright clothing seen in the photo above.

Yes, after going through the scanner, the man in the three piece suit ahead me got the pat down. When I stepped up after him, the TSA agent barely looked at me gave me the weary wave 'go on your way'.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Frog Dog, Dog Frog, Frog Dog, Dog Frog, ...

I usually don't respond much to attempts to turn our pet dogs into quasi-humans.. but Halloween is a case for which I'll make an exception. This cute doggie may not know what's going on here, but for us humans, it great !

Chairless Society Awareness

I first became aware of it a few decades ago. Walking downtown to school one morning I saw a man in a three piece suit waiting for the bus. Nothing unusual about that except that he was soles of his feet flat on the ground squatting waiting for the bus the way people from a society without chairs would do. The juxtaposition of a person dressed in formal western clothing squatting on the sidewalk in a non-western way was a bit of a jolt.

Yesterday morning I saw the person in the photos above (video stills, please pardon the low resolution) squatting on a bench and it reminded me about how 'obvious' things in our culture may not be so obvious after all. Here is provided a bench for sitting on so naturally the girl sits on it, but something isn't quite 'right' about the picture.

I recall a local story from the 80's in which a group of people who had risked everything to aid the US cause during the SouthEast Asian undeclared war were given asylum and allowed to settle in the US. Cultural assumptions by those charged with getting the people settled here led to some initial problems... The people were shown the kitchens of their new abodes and were told that the stove is where the food is cooked. Very good. Upon later visits though it was clear that the new settlers were piling wood on top of the stove burners and lighting the wood on fire to cook. No one had thought that they would not automatically know how a stove was designed to be used. After a (few) brush(es) with law enforcement, the same group of people had to be informed that hunting small game in Golden Gate park for dinner was not allowed. Too bad they were such early settlers.. If they had waited a few decades they'd be hailed as the ultimate 'eat locally sourced food' pioneers.

So, seeing the girl squatting on the 'sit' bench reminded me to question my natural assumptions.

I think I tended to buy too readily the idea that in a certain country in the middle east, after coming in and deposing a dictator, the people would welcome their given opportunity to have 'freedom' and embrace it eagerly as we in the US do. The reality may be that the majority have no concept of 'freedom' as we understand it and even if they did, they wouldn't want it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fuzzy Bike Supreme

Now I've seen some Fuzz Bikes, but this one that I spotted a few nights ago is the Fuzziest so far. Yowie.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and the Wagner experience

This past Saturday I treated myself to take in some Indian Classical Dancing by attending a performance that was part the Festival of Indian Classical Dance in SF. That evening was one of 3 performance days held at the Yerba Buena over the weekend. The 2 styles that I saw: Kathak and Bharatanatyam place heavy emphasis on stylized gesture to convey emotions and tell their story.

The Kathak piece 'Sita Haran' was a full-length saga of 3 exiles and their adventures along their path through central India. With a help of a narrator whom opened each movement/scene with a description of the circumstances surrounding the scene (in English) it was easy to grasp what was unfolding on stage as the dancers acted out the drama. The entire dance was performed by women, apparently an ironic twist as historically many such dances were performed by troupes consisting entirely of men.

The Bharatanatyam pieces were performed by a husband wife duo V.P. Dhananjayan and C.P. Shanta (their pictures above). Here I was a little lost. The dance form clearly contains a repertoire of gestures representing a set of actions/emotions. Amongst the live band (with an absolutely masterful percussion/tabla guy) was a vocalist who I assume was narrating each of the dances. Unfortunately (for me), the singing was not in English so I could not really
understand what was happening.
The experience was not unlike going to a Wagner opera before the advent of 'super titles' to narrate the goings on on stage. Beautiful singing with orchestral leitmotifs that signify certain actions, but if you can't understand German being sung, you're pretty much in dark about what in the world is going on on stage.
So while I appreciated the Dancing and Music in the abstract, I missed the stories completely due to the linguistic barrier.

All in all, the evening was an enriching experience that I would welcome again !

update: here's the SFGate Review

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dance Wright Night Delights II

Having enjoyed last year's DanceWright Project show so much, I looked foward to this year's performances in Sept. and I was not disappointed !
Thinking back now, a few weeks later, a couple of things have stuck in my mind about the evening:

The excellence of the DanceWright dancers was impressive !
One of my former Jazz Dance teachers, Zafra Miriam, had remarked that Jazz was hard because one moment you can be doing the most contorted off-balance thing and then suddenly in the next moment you have to be as centered and balanced as a Ballet dancer. Well, the DanceWright crew had THAT for sure. Not only going from a 'crazy posture' to suddenly being centered and balanced, but all the way up onto full pointe (tips of toes) to boot. All of that while actually 'dancing' as in 'art vs. a gymnastic-like-technical display'.. wow..

Kat Worthington's piece 'Portals of Grace' with her group 'Copius Dance Theater' was lush/flowing and expressive. I don't know how else to put it. It really has to be seen as words can't convey it (or rather, I can't convey the feeling). The SFgate reviewer described the piece (later performed at the WestWave performance) as 'curious'.. hmmm.. I and the many sitting near me on the night that I say it thought that it was enthralling !

Lastly, the 'Adhesive Dance Theater' of Dexandro "D" Montalvo did some contemporary dance theater pieces (and they did adhere !). One of them 'Ride the Muni' was the comical transition of a very uptight (as in ska-way-yer conservative) MUNI rider letting it all go after being trapped in a MUNI trolley during a 'service outage'.. The confined MUNI car became the 'Club MUNI' disco hall with our hero loosening his tie and shakin' it (madly)... 'Club MUNI' became my personal theme of the week that followed :-)

I'm looking foward to DanceWright Night #3 next year !

Part of me wished that this recent Night #2 could have been experienced by a larger crowd. I ran into someone later who had also been at Night #2 and we agreed that if the show moves to a larger venue, that venue might be the kind of place where the audience would not be allowed to hoot n' holler (and we were hootin n' hollerin' mightly during night #2) and that that might be a loss... life's trade-offs...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Doggie Diner

Doggie Diners used to be a familiar sight around the SF Bay Area. The big smiling dachsund promised kids a nice meal from the home of the friendly doggie. Alas, the worldwide golden arches and their ilk have done in the favorite local dog. But the heads still live and I was pleasantly surprised to happen upon this trio smiling in the sunset.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Full Circle

A few decades ago a journalist whose name I've forgotten, wrote an article for a magazine whose name I've also forgotten, in which he observed an interesting fashion trend amongst urban Japanese citizens while on a visit to Tokyo.

He described seeing many people wearing clothing that had 'nonsense' english sayings on them. Something along the lines of:

Mighty Vacation Fury


Salute to Stigma

or some such. Of course, it did not matter to the garment wearers what the words on their clothes actually meant, all that mattered was that the idea of having English language words or pronouncements on your clothes was a cool fashion statement.

We (in the English speaking world) laughed.

OK, so flash forward to last week during which I noticed this peculiar hand bag being worn by the pedestrian in front of me.

Well, this handbag has nice Chinese characters printed on it.


You see, words are not quite right. As any person who can read the most elementary Chinese can see, the characters don't look right until you hold the bag up to a mirror and read them from there. Yes, the characters are completely mirror image 'backwards'

Of course, this condition likely didn't matter one bit to the person 'holding the bag', all that mattered was that the characters, readable or not, were making a cool fashion statement.

East and West have come full circle around each other !

When the going gets weird...

The weird turn pro...

I forget from where I first heard that phrase, but how appropriate it is...

My knee is recovering steadily and I am able to bicycle for ever so slightly longer commute distances. I'm really looking forward to when I can do some basic recreational riding (starting off at about 30 miles / 3 hours of easy riding). My touring road bike had minimalist 'clip' only pedals on it and I wanted to change them out for some dual-use 'clip' and 'no-clip' pedals as my right knee is still a bit sensitive to twisting..

I replaced the right pedal without any problems, but the left pedal just wasn't going to budge with the cheap soft-steel short wrench that I was using (see top picture. I've left out from the photo the hammer that I was using to bang on the wrench lest I cause heart-attacks within the chests of any professional bike mechanics as a result displaying such abuse of equipment).

Time for some real equipment !

I bit the bullet and ante-d up for a professional grade purpose made 15mm pedal wrench. A thick piece of hardened steel that's long enough to provide plenty of leverage. I hook the wrench up to the pedal and apply torque via the nicely cushioned handle...

viola.. With the greatest of ease the pedal is loosened and I complete the pedal change.

Right tool for the job !

Monday, May 31, 2010

Trained Technique vs Spontaneity

I checked out the 'KeKe Palmer Super Jerkin Contest Winners' video.

A pair had won a choreography contest posed by KeKe Palmer to submit a 'Jerkin' dance routine.

The 2 winners joined KeKe and another dancer to rehearse the routine. What I saw re-raises a quandry that's lurked in my mind for quite a while: Technical Training vs 'Spontaneity'. KeKe and Co look like 'trained dancers'. They're tight in timing and movement. The 2 contest winners are great but one can notice that in many places their hands and arms are not in sync, especially with regards to placement. The video was edited with many short quick cuts, I suspect that this was purposefully done so that the difference in the quality of the dancers would be less noticeable.

But, which of the pairs is 'better' ? I'm not sure that I have an opinion. What one group impresses with as far as precision, the other group impresses with being able to convey a different kind of feeling.

Try to compare trumpeters Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Wynton Marsalis wins hands down for versatility and technical ability. Miles would never have made it as a symphonic trumpeter, whereas Wynton Marsalis had remarkably won both the classical and jazz Grammy Awards one year. But Miles had a voice all his own and sometimes I wonder if a perfect 'classically trained' tone would have helped or hurt his art.

That's the dilemma with dance, how to train precision but also not come across as a robot (unless you're doing the robot style, of course !).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Chromatic Polar Invert

Last night I was on my way to HipHop Dance class and noticed that the fellow sitting near me happened to be wearing colors similar to those draped upon myself only 'turned upside down'. How likely is that given this subdued shade of red ?

He graciously agreed to be photographed :-)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Romeo and Juliet

I went to see SF Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet on Friday night. This was a 'complete' experience with a fantastic score, expressive choreography and an elaborate set and costumes. The score, by Prokofiev, is rich enough to just listen to alone. I recall vividly the first time I heard a section of it. In a crackling super-low fidelity ShortWave radio broadcast from 'Radio Moscow'. It was rich and dramatic sounding, I had to learn more about this music which was bouncing off the ionosphere traversing continents to reach me. Michael Tilson Thomas arranged a suite and recorded it with the SF Symphony, highly recommended.

The choreography struck me as classical ballet with modern touches (usually in the form of allowing some torso bending here and there). At one point, to demonstrate shared excitement through gesture, 2 of the dancers jumped up in the air to give each other the 'high five' (very contemporary !).

The performance looked sold out. The only floor level seat that I could get was off on the side (see photo). I prefer floor level seating because it allows me the best view of the dancers use of elevation. The seats at higher levels give a better view of the choreography and better acoustics from the orchestra, but for me it's mostly about the individual dancers so floor level it is.

I wish I could have taken (non-flash) pictures of the actual performance. Which leads me back to my main peeve about the 'old arts establishment'. In my humble opinion, they ought to get with modern times or continue to die a self-strangled death as their patrons slowly fade away. So.... I cannot point you to any exciting and interesting pictures of the performance on a photo sharing site because it's not allowed.

Earlier in the day I heard a podcast interview with Principal Dancer Maria Kochetkova. At one point the interviewer brought up the fact that she is on Twitter. Every time he asked a question about her 'tweeting' habits he and the audience could not suppress laughter because it sounded so funny (i.e. foreign and unknown). I'll grant SFBallet that they now have stuff up on YouTube and that there's a company Blog and an official Twitter account. But I think the next step is to relax the tight control and to allow patrons themselves to capture and relate their excitement about the SFBallet scene with their own media taken from their own point of view.

Socially evolved or not, I'm really looking forward to their next season !

Saturday, April 24, 2010


My sister from Minnesota visited recently and I asked her if people 'donk' their cars around where she lives. She had never heard of the term before and had not noticed any cars matching the general description that I gave her.

I was tooling around enjoying the return to bicycle errand running the other day and noticed this car in the first stages of getting donked. It's got oversized wheels and a raised suspension to match.

Sis, here you go....

Monday, April 12, 2010

This is Wrong

This last Sunday's New York Times Magazine contained a full page AmericanAirlines advertisement that lept out at me immediately. .

It's so WRONG !

You see, above the bold heading 'BEIJING' is a picture of Southern Chinese Lion Dancers. The Lion Dancers from BeiJing would be in a completely different style of costume whose appearance is dominated by long shiny silky golden hair. What were they (not) thinking, whoever put this ad together ?

A similar U.S. Folk Art mistranslation might be to consider an Appalachian Folk Singer to be interchangeable with a Mississippi Delta Blues Singer. Well, why not, they're both Singing Americans with Guitars, right ? WRONG !

I shouldn't be so difficult though. I'm sure that in some Chinese newspaper somewhere, there are Travel Advertisements beckoning the new moneyed classes to come visit Seattle and see the Mardi Gras :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Man Made Artificial Cloud

The other day, I caught sight of a Cloud created from atmospheric condensation released by a factory across the bay. Here's a snapshot !

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Solar Powered Silence

I was shopping around for a pair of headphones to use at home and for no particular reason I decided to try 'active noise canceling' headphones. Headphones that have microphones to pick up external sounds and circuitry to invert these external waveforms and play them through the headphones in effect 'canceling' the outside noise.

I had no idea what to expect as far as how much external noise would be removed. I was disappointed at first to learn that not ALL of the external noise was eliminated, but it was clear that the deeper low frequency sounds were filtered out pretty well. At my office I'm located next to an air conditioned room full of hardware, the muffled sound from the well insulated room never really bothered me but after getting these headphones (Sennheiser PXC 450) I was amazed at how much of a difference the 'extra silence' could make. At home I've become aware of just how much noise my desktop computer fan puts out. Now that I've experienced the refreshing effects of auditory quiet, I can't go back.

Silence is Golden, but it comes at a price. The headphone's sound wave generating circuit is powered by a single AAA battery. I've been powering the headphones with rechargeable Nickle-Metal-Hydride batteries which keeps the cost down.
I'd recently noticed that with the prices of Solid State Solar Electricity Generating Cells coming down, that a small battery charger could be had for under $20. I decided to get one to use for charging the batteries that power the headphones.

I did some quick but very conservative calculations to get an idea of how long it would take to 'earn back' the cost of the charger when compared to using AAA alkaline batteries.

Here goes:

A Duracell AAA Alkaline battery has a listed capacity of 1150 mAh.

Cheap bulk AAA batteries can be had for about $0.50 each.

Assume that an AAA NiMH 700 mAh cell costs $2 and can be recharged 200 times.
That puts the cost of the NiMH battery at $0.01 per use.

That means that the savings per Alkaline cell is:
1 1150 mAH Alkaline @ $0.50 - 2 (700 mAH NiMH use @ $0.01) = $0.48

So we'll get back the cost of the charger in:
$20.00 charger price / $0.48 savings * 2 NiMH cells = 83 AAA NiMH cells

The charger charges 2 AAA cells at a time so it will take ~42 charging sessions to charge 83 cells

To charge a pair of NiMH cells conservatively will take about:
1600 mAh (some current wasted) / 120 mA (average charging current) / 6 hours sunlight =
2.2 days

Since not all days are sunny, we'll say that we can charge 2 sets = 4 batteries per week.

That makes the time to recoup the cost of the charger at:

83 cells / 4 cells per week = 21 weeks or 1/2 year.

1/2 year to pay back the cost of the charger.

Not too bad.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

1st Day Back !

My long awaited return to Ballet class has finally come to pass to today.

How sweet it is to be back in (e)motion !

Naturally, I could only do the physically easier 1/2 of the class warmups and exercises and could only 'mark' (step through and not really dance) the dance portions, but it is great to be back into the swing of things.

"Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Truth in Rechargeable Battery Advertising

Like most of us, I use a number of battery powered devices in daily life. When I started saving spent cells for proper disposal and saw how many of them were being tossed I became concerned. I wanted to cut down on the waste.

In the past I had used Nickle Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries with a cheap charger. As the charge cycle is not 100% chemically reversible the batteries age. Eventually a battery goes bad and perhaps 1 of 4 batteries is no longer chargeable, but which one ? The charger that I had was really cheap and would only charge in pairs or quadruples. This made trying to find the bad battery(s) in a batch very time consuming.

Time for a new charger. After a bit of investigation I settled on the 'Maha MH-C9000' Charger Analyzer. This device has 4 independent charging circuits so each battery essentially has its own individual charger.
The real usefulness of the device is that has more functions that just charging: Charge, Refresh, Breakin, Discharge.

allows you to set the input current, you can do a high current fast charge or a more battery life friendly slow charge.

does a voltage based charge-discharge-charge cycle in which you get to choose the charge and discharge currents. When finished the total capacity of the battery found during discharge is reported so that you know how much energy the battery will hold at that point in it's life cycle.

does a very slow time based charge discharge charge cycle recommended for new uncharged batteries.

will drain the battery (I haven't had cause to use this yet).

So with the MH-C9000 there is no more guessing about the state of your batteries. Doing periodic Refresh cycles you can see what each battery's capacity is over time and watch its decline (I do a Refresh about every 10 recharges and the slower Breakin about every 30 recharge cycles). When a battery has ceased to be useful, this charger will refuse to charge it and will indicate to you that it has refused.

I decided to measure the capacity of each battery to compare against the capacity stated on the label by the manufacturer. I've done that for a number of new batteries and the results are interesting.
See the graph above (hand drawn, the old fashioned way).

For a given set of new batteries, I averaged the measured capacity and graphed the percentage deviation from the labeled capacity with negative percentage on the Y axis thus the higher the bar the WORSE the battery. I arbitrarily picked -10% as the GOOD/BAD cutoff point. The GOOD green bars are less than 10% below labelled capacity, the BAD red bars exceed that.

Based on this small sample size, one interesting trend is shown:

The 'Name' Brands tended to be truer to advertised claims than the less well known names.

Most notably, the Radio Shack 700 (the green battery on the left in the graph picture) showed an average capacity of 726mAh which is HIGHER than the 700mAh on its label.

The biggest joke was the visually screaming red and black 'CTA 1200' (the red battery on the right in the graph picture) which yielded an average 389mAh, that's a whopping -68% less than what its label says !

Radio Shack is not known for premium quality electronics but what it does have is warranty support and deep pockets (the U.S. is, after all, a place in which if you were to order a Coke but instead are served a Pepsi, the place that mis-served you is seriously liable).

The next place 'truth in advertising' runners up are both 'Imedion' batteries from Maha. As Maha is the manufacturer of the MH-C9000 it's fitting that their batteries have trustworthy labels !

The Good

AAA Radio Shack 700 actual 726 + 3.8 %
AAA Imedion 800 actual 800 0.0 %
AA Imedion 2100 actual 2070 - 1.4 %
AA Kodak 2100 actual 2038 - 3.0 %
AAA Sanyo 1000 actual 962 - 3.8 %
AA Kodak 2500 actual 2332 - 6.7 %

The Bad and Pretty

AA Nexcell 2700 actual 2291 -15 %
AA Accupower 2900 actual 2281 -21 %
AAA Nexcell 1000 actual 623 -38 %
AAA CTA 1200 actual 389 -68 %

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Paris Opera Ballet "La Danse"

Yesterday, I ventured out to my first public entertainment venue since the ACL surgery to catch the last screening of 'La Danse' at the Roxie Theatre in SF. After sitting to view the 2 1/2 hour documentary my knee was killing me and it was painful to walk the few blocks back to the train station but the movie was well worth the physical discomfort cost !

'La Danse' is a camera roaming the environment of the Paris Opera Ballet institution to give a view of the life that exists within its walls. For people like me who will never be professional dancers, it's a glimpse into a world only imagined. The camera looked at all facets of the Ballet: the dancers, the directors, the costume and makeup staff, the cafeteria staff, the custodial staff, the building repairs, even a nice sequence that started by gazing upward at the beautifully ornate ceiling of the performance hall proceeding all the way down to the Paris sewer beneath the building looking down showing the fish swimming in the sewer water !

The primary point of view of the movie though is (as I interpret it) from the point of view of a dancer in the company. Hence, the bulk of the footage concentrates on rehearsal. That's rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal. Thus, appropriately, there is comparatively way less footage of actual performance. It's right that it should be this way since most of the dancers time will be spent in rehearsal. Right after some performance footage, scenes cut straight to the next days rehearsal just as the dancer would experience life.

If you're not interested in dance, or watching professional dance rehearsals, this movie will be 2 1/2 hours of sheer boredom as there is no plot and there is no focusing in on any 'personal story'. It's the professional's life here. The quality of the dancing is superbe, bringing gasps from the movie audience myself included. The company was shown to have a balance of classical and modern dance. Indeed some of the energy looked like Michael Jackson Amplified (and with greater training and discipline !). Spectacular !

A few interesting non-dance moments from the movie stuck in my mind:

- cut to the executives (in a modest office BTW) planning what they were going to do for visiting American 'premium donors', those individuals that have donated more than $25000 US to the dance company. One of the donor groups ? People from Lehman Brothers..

- In countries like France, Germany.. there are Ballet/Dance companies that are state organizations. The Paris Opera Ballet is a state company so it's the 'same' as working for the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) here. You're a government employee with the same concerns as gov't employees everywhere. In particular a meeting was shown in which the Director explained that the Dancers in the company were recognized as having on average a 'different useful working life' as compared with other gov't workers therefore they didn't have to wait until 65 to be eligible for their gov't pension, instead they are eligible at age 40 for the same benefit. The director added that the high level of achievement of the company was key in that decision and that 'slackening of standards' might put the special consideration in jeopardy.

- In one rehearsal scene a dancer could not shake her habit of pausing her movement with her leg swung back behind her (in Arabesque). This undoubtedly coming from a lifetime of training that way. "She keeps thinking that there is an Arabesque there, when there is none" the choreographer and others keep saying...

- The artistic director describing dancers as being:
1/2 Nun and 1/2 Boxer
Being both the Jockey and the Horse
Being both the Driver and the Race Car

- A choreographer trying to describe the feeling that he wanted from a pair of dancers:
C: "It is like the XMen movies, they want to be in love but because of their dangerous powers they cannot and must stay apart"
D: "Like Edward Scissorhands !"
(editorial comment from me: Hollywood rules the entertainment world...)

A movie worth watching if you're interested in dance and one to avoid like the plague if you're not !

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Back On 2 Wheels Again !

And going nowhere fast !

At the advice of Kelly, my Physical Therapist/Torturer, I've climbed back onto my road bike and magnetic trainer to start the next phase of getting my rebuilt knee into shape. The first few full crank revolutions were pretty painful but spiritually uplifting. It's great to be back on 2 wheels again, no matter that I'm not going anywhere !

This week I also gained back the use of my Bass Drum foot. Life being so short of time, I've had to shove drumming aside in order to make time for dancing. I figure that the body will give up on dancing before it gives up on drumming, so dancing has gotten first priority ('Better get it while you can'). Now that my knee is rebuilding and I can't dance, I might as well jump back over and work on my rhythm. Ummph, Pop, Umph Umph... I'm a rhythm and syncopation junkie. As killer drummer Virgil Donati remarked during his spot at the 1997 Modern Drummer Weekend (on DVD) "Drums, the greatest instrument there is !" :-)

Lastly, I took my Mom out to breakfast this morning and saw this cute doggie waiting outside the cafe. I couldn't resist a picture !

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nexus Support Complaints

To much fanfare Google has plunged into the consumer end of the phone market and started direct sales of their new 'Nexus' phone.

There have been complaints about the lack of customer support for the new phone users though. Some are saying that the idea of directly supporting living breathing people is something new for Google (at the time of writing of the article linked to above, there is no Nexus telephone support available !).

If they are pressured into offering phone support, here's what I imagine a typical support call might go like (names changed to protect the guilty):

G: Welcome to Giigle support how may I help you today ?

C: I'm having a problem with my new Nix-Us phone.

G: OK, first though, can you answer this question for me ?
How many basketballs can you fit in a school bus ?

C: What ? I'm not good at math, and anyway why are you asking me this ?

G: Well, I need to know if you're smart enough to be worth my time...
What were you, some kind of a Liberal Arts major ?
OK, well here's one without any scary numbers in it:
Why is a manhole cover round ?

C: I can't answer that, I just need some help with the new phone that I just bought from you !

G: Say, what University did you graduate from anyway ?

C: I didn't get a chance to go to college, I've been working 2 jobs since High School to support my seriously ill Mother, and...

G: That's a lame sounding excuse if I ever heard one..
OK, I've got 4 letters for you: R.T.F.M. (Read The 'Fine' Manual)

C: What ?

(disclaimer: I have a 'Google Android Powered' G-1 phone and love it. I also take advantage of a number of the free services that Google offers and my life has been better for it)

UPDATE: May 14, 2010

Google has announced that it will discontinue direct sales of the Nexus One phone

"...but it’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone..."

(We'd rather quit than have to deal with people.... )