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After a fair amount of fuss and bother (if anyone has a better way to rip AV off of a DVD on Macs than VLC, please let me know), I have succeeded in putting our "yeah, we're amateurs, you can tell" video on YouTube!  Embedded below:

We did it!

Oct. 10th, 2009 08:31 pm
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October Challenge was today.  We did our first ice dance competition!

It's sort of odd; if you're skating against an actual competitor, the worst you can do is come in second place.  It is technically possible to come in as low as third if you're skating "against the book", if you do really atrociously and score low on the point scale.

No worries here, though.  We came in first. :)  We'll get a DVD of our performance Thursday, which I'll attempt to rip video from and post to YouTube or something, and point folks to any pictures that come out well.

(I didn't even freeze!  Rinks turn warmer in the afternoon when the sun's been out all day.)
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Last weekend, we went to our local Honda dealership to ask about a new stereo for my 1998 Accord.  (As I'd described previously, it has recently been prone to losing sound during hot weather, and I was getting very tired of it.)  Honda, it turns out, wanted to charge me something insane like $800 for a tape deck model basically identical to the cheapo stock unit that was busy breaking.  The nice Honda guy suggested going to, you know, a car audio place where I might do rather better. 

So today, we went to Monney Car Audio.  I'd been leery of going, figuring I'd be faced with slimy salespeople attempting to sell me much more stereo than I wanted or needed.  What I found instead was a nice guy, probably in his mid-fifties, who showed me what was probably their cheapest CD/radio/audio jack model, and the model 1 level higher than that (about $60 more), and that's it!  He installed the least expensive model pretty much on the spot, and I spent less than $200 on the item+installation.  As that's about as much as I wanted to pay for it, without having done any research aforehand, I was perfectly happy.  I would definitely recommend the local Monney on the basis of non-obnoxiousness and - I expect - knowledge about higher-end models if that's what you want.  Happy birthday, me!

We also went to Kohl's so that Huz could take another look for a black sweater for *his* skating outfit.  Kohl's bought out a whole bunch of Mervyn's locations when Mervyn's went under, and it looks, at least during opening weekend, like it'll be a pretty reasonable substitute.  Huz found an acceptable sweater and some good flannel shirts.  I didn't find much, but I wasn't looking all that hard either.

Oh yah.  And I bought plane tickets for Christmas earlier today.

I think we might be done with serious stimulatin' of the economy for a while.  Whew!

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Hmm.  Polyester/spandex blend lets the wind rip right on through.  Tights, despite claims to the contrary, are not as warm as jeans, largely for the same reason.  I am going to friggin' freeze during the competition! 

I am grateful that, start to finish, it only takes a little more than a minute to do Dutch Waltz twice through, even with slightly fancy beginning and ending.  And presumably there will be warm drinks available upstairs during the whole affair.
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The skating dress showed up last night! Of course, nothing would do but to try it on basically then and there, and have Huz take photos of it:Photos behind the cut )
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It turns out that fashion in the ice skating world is as rigorously programmed as fancy clothing or auto designs are in the real world.  Designers/makers use This Year's Patterns basically exclusively.   And wouldn't you know it - the dresses that I like fall into last year's category!  The immediate upshot of this is that the dress I ordered in blue isn't available in blue for grownups any more, but only black.  After hemming and hawing, I went ahead and responded to the email saying that yes, I wanted the dress in black.  I haven't heard from the person since, and they failed to give a complete phone number in their email.  (I haven't listened to the phone message they left at my home; hopefully there's a complete number there.)  Another website that claimed to have that dress admitted, when I called them, to having none in stock of any color.

But really, it seems rather unfair that things like this cannot be found in adult medium anymore because it's last year's friggin' pattern.  I am peeved.

(As an aside to the previous post: I can get into an adult small, but it's awfully tight.  I misremembered; it was the juvenile 12-14 that I couldn't fit into at all.)


EDIT: Dress ordered.  It is promised to be in my hot little hands on or before 9/30.

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 be holding an ISI Open Competition in October, and Huz and I are dipping our competitive toes in the water, as it were, by signing up to compete in Dutch Waltz (the first 'real' dance you learn).  Clearly, it would be inappropriate to compete in my usual skatewear (ripped jeans and old sweatjacket), which means that I've spent the last two days looking for a reasonable ice-dance dress.

I looked around online first to get a feel for what was out there.  Most skating outfits are designed for females with a maximum age of sixteen - enough sequins and sparkles to blind the viewer, and skirts that would be illegally short in any other venue.  I had seen a couple of longer, more flowing skirts at ISI Worlds, so I knew they had to exist.  They do; they're just a little hard to find.  More on that in a moment.

I ended up ordering something online. Details behind the cut. )
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There's an ISI open competition at our rink in October.  We still aren't sure that we're actually going to compete in it, but the head of the skating program figured that since today was the last day of classes in the current session, everyone in the dance class could test up to one level or another (there are ten levels in the ISI scheme).  So, kind of accidentally, we passed Dance 1 (4 chassés; 4 progressives; each in 4-count rhythm with music) and Dance 2 (swing rolls in 6-count rhythm to music; Dutch waltz to music)!  Hey, I feel competent now.  :)

(Of course, we also started learning swing dance today, which is... well, harder.  Feeling of competency goes away really fast.  I gotta go work on left front 3-turns now, kthxbye.)

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We spent the day watching people skate at ISI Worlds.  The short version: We had a really excellent time and have decided this means we should go watch ice skating competitions more often.
The slightly longer version )

Anyway.  We had a fantastic time and we're really glad we went.  Yay!

Take that!

Jul. 31st, 2009 09:19 am
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I've spent the week all by my onesies at work, so to speak, as my coworker is on vacation in his homeland of Turkey.  While I can claim to have accomplished certain things (taking care of tissue culture and counting cells, getting genomic-based PCR to work to the point I'll be able to clone stuff next week), I am peeved enough by the various results I got yesterday that I am REALLY GLAD that I get to take today off to go watch people skate.  Ha!  So there!  Work, I shall deal with you next week.
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Go, [ profile] catagon3 ! Congratulations on your win today -  I hope that Wednesday will go well too!!!!!!


Jul. 18th, 2009 09:14 pm
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- Tea eggs for the win!  Thanks, [ profile] digitalemur !

– No skating class this AM, but we went skating during public session and got Very Tired.  Reverse Killian position feels *really* weird.  But then again, so did standard Killian at first.  Practice practice practice. 

- Speaking of practicing, there were about three different kids all working on their routines for ISI Worlds, which happens in about two weeks.  They took it in turns out on the ice: the "Ease On Down the Road" girl would go, then the girl with the vaguely recognizable music, then the James Bond boy.  Then they'd do it again.  And again.  That's quite something, in kids none of whom is over the age of about 11, if that.

- Speaking of ISI Worlds, why is it that I can't find ticket information anywhere???  Grmph.

- Having fun with Tactics A2.  Everyone's about level 14, and I clearly need to buy some more spiffy weapons so folks can learn more skillz.  (No, it's not really spelled that way.)  It's a slightly odd system, if like me you never played Tactics Advance but loved the original FFTactics: equipment teaches you how to do stuff.  And everyone gets ability points, even if they didn't participate in a given battle.  Huh???

I Like Weekends.  :)

Good days

May. 3rd, 2009 02:20 pm
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Yesterday was quite productive.  We:

• got taught the steps to our first true ice dance, the Dutch Waltz

• got work done on my car
    This took longer than it was supposed to and I failed to bring anything to entertain myself with while waiting.  So I hung out in the customer lounge and watched a bit of Game Seven of the Boston/Chicago basketball game.  It's the first time I've watched pro basketball in literally decades, and the main thing that struck me was, wow those guys are beefy!  Muscles on muscles in their torsos and arms.  Way back when (in my kiddie memory of Larry Bird and his ilk) I remember that the typical basketball-player phenotype was tall and skinny.  When did that change to tall and burly?

• performed in the voice studio's recital
    Which went quite well, really.  Laurie's Song went at least as well as it's ever gone in practice, ditto the Doll Song.  The Green Dog was fine till the very end when I flubbed the timing.  Pretty much everyone was an active pleasure to listen to - it was really nice!

• had a fence between us and a neighbor built after the old one blew down a couple of weeks ago

And today, I've already done church and we've gone skating.  We need to go over to Stanford so I can pack up some supplies I'll need, take care of the neighbor's cats, and go grocery shopping.  Yes, busy.  But good.
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Today's been really very nice.  We've been home, for starters: while the mattress on the floor at my parents' house works okay for about a week, there's nothing quite like one's own mattress with nice fuzzy flannel sheets to give one a good night's sleep.  We were both so tired that we went to bed around 8-8:15 local time last night.  Woke up around 6, dozed and lolled till, oh, 7:30 or so.  So that was good.

We've done a good combination of "distinctly useful" and "just fun/pleasant" things today.  The combination of having company coming tomorrow and being in a somewhat messy environment for much of last week inspired us to do a fair amount of cleaning.  I tidied the dining room and coffee table (though the coffee table could stand more), cleaned much of the bathroom, and thoroughly vacuumed the  dining room and living room rugs.  The huz cleaned the stovetop and went through a pile of stuff on the kitchen table that's been collecting for quite some time.  We went ice skating for the first time in a bit over a week (last time was Saturday of last weekend), we both played our Wii games that we're working on (one star for the huz, and unbepuzzlement on various paths in Hyrule Castle for me), we've done computer stuff, read, and I even lay down for a while this afternoon after skating.  I beat Golem at card dueling in Chocobo Tales too.  Oh, and we've spent time with the kitties, which is both fun and useful.  Tazz is dozing on my lap even now.

The more I play FFF:CT, the more impressed I am by how generally kid-friendly it is.  Sure, the little chocobo hero is generally saving the world from a nasty demon book-thing, but how threatening is that when the method of saving is to play lots and lots of little games?  Especially when the worst that happens when you lose a challenge, either in a minigame or a duel is.. okay, fine, you lose, try again?  Even in a card duel, if you lose, you lose all your HP and the duel is over.  But the 'real world' chocobo avatar is just fine.  It doesn't die; there's no Game Over.  Golem (or whoever) just stands there and waits for you to challenge him again.  Eventually, you must beat him to advance the plot, but it's entirely likely that there are several mini- and micro-games for you to wander off and beat in the hopes of changing the local environment (usually to access a new area), rescuing one of your chocobo buddies, or gaining a new dueling card with which to improve your deck.  It's true that some of the games are kind of tough.  The microgames are set up in such a way that if you get some moderate number of points, you get an okay sort of dueling card; if you get a much higher number of points, you get a rather cooler card.  For most of the microgames, it's not hugely difficult to get that first level of card.. but of the many many microgames that I've come across, I've gotten the second level card all of twice, and there are two microgames where I haven't managed even the first level.  All these games are short, no more than a couple of minutes, and almost all of them give the sense that if one tries just one more time, one could beat battle level five or achieve the hardest trial run.  Just one more try, really!  Frighteningly addictive, but straightforward in terms of its structure to play for five or ten minutes and then shut it off again - a really excellent setup for a portable system.  Very very good investment, this.
amethyst73: (sleepy tazz)
*thud* I feel like I've accomplished a lot in the last few weeks.

In my Travel Agent role, I purchased airplane tickets for my parents to come and visit at Christmas about two weeks ago. Then I purchased tickets for the huz and me to go to Storyreading Reunion in September. Add that to the tickets and hotel stuff that I did back in May for the trip to New York next week, and you get a lot of travel stuff.

In my Librivox Metacoordinator role, I catalogued three projects in three days. Did lots of staring at and editing of pages and creating Librivox catalog pages. A fourth project technically under my jurisdiction became ready for cataloging yesterday (of course), but kayray very graciously took care of it for me. Thanks, Kara!  (For the curious: The three projects were The Burgess Animal Book, Fabulas de Esopo vol. 4, and Time and the Gods.  Good stuff all.)

Work's been going along fine; nothing particularly exciting. I've been helping to hand-pick bacterial colonies, which is time-consuming, tedious, but useful; having less dead time at work is part of the reason I haven't been posting all that regularly. (For anyone curious about what hand-picking means: Take round agar plate with little white colonies growing on it in one gloved hand. Take one (or more) sterile toothpicks in your other hand. Apply tip of each toothpick to a single colony. Deposit toothpicks into individual wells in a 96-well bacterial growth plate. Repeat until 96 colonies have been picked into the plate. Remove toothpicks, label plate, and repeat for all plates.)

Singing stuff has been going very well indeed. I had my first voice lesson in about a month earlier this week, and my teacher was very pleased with the progress that I've made. I'm doing real bel-canto singing now: all the sound production is taking place up in my head above my cheekbones, where it's supposed to. It feels great.  Now the task is to solidify the breathing, support, technique, etc, and we can start having some real fun.  :D  The question for me, of course, is how much longer I'll continue taking lessons, given that I've kind of gotten to a Really Good Place.  I want the additional control that further lessons will give me, but at some point the rate of return is probably going to decrease to a point where it's no longer worth paying a fair chunk of money on a weekly basis.

Finally, the huz and I went to see Paprika last night.  It's a fantastic piece of anime, which may well get its own post one of these fine days.  We loved it.  If you are interested in anime, dreams, reality, and the intersection of them, you should go see it.  I would not at all mind seeing it a second time.  (Oh hey [profile] nezumiko - it looks like it's playing for another several days at the local theater, so if you missed it this week, you can still go conveniently!)

We have nothing planned for the weekend, except starting advanced skating class on Saturday.  Yay, a quiet weekend at home!
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The huz and I have been taking group ice skating lessons since January.  It's a fun - and much less expensive - alternative to fencing, which had been our primary form of 'fun' exercise for a couple of years.  Lessons are held on Saturday morning, and we try to go once some time in the middle of the week between lessons (usually Thursday mornings).

The public session Thursday morning is usually fairly populated.  There's generally between eight and twelve other adults, and often a handful of kids of varying ages and abilities.  Usually someone has the CD player going so they can practice their routine for an upcoming performance or competition.  Oftentimes a staff member is giving a private lesson to a child, complete with portable boom box playing some entirely different piece of music from whatever's in the sound system.  With all these things going, the rink is generally sort of noisy.

The first ten minutes of Thursday morning this past week were different.  For starters, there were only three people on the ice: me, the huz, and another adult.  All three of us are still in fairly basic levels, so none of us had music in the player.  And we all traveled at about the same rate, so we each had our own fairly sizeable piece of rink. 

The sounds that I could hear were the whirr of the cooling fans overhead, the slight scratching noise my blades made as they traveled over the ice, and the whistle of the air traveling through the gaps between my blade and shoe as I moved.  It was a lovely and almost magical experience.

Then a couple of little kids dressed in hockey gear entered the ice along with their parents.  So much for silence!  ..But the experience was great while it lasted.


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