Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Summer silliness

Sometimes Homer got it right ;)

Today I learned that a serving of ice cream is *much* bigger than I’d always thought?!?!   Lol. I’ve been trying to weigh food for better awareness, but I’ve been lax about ice cream.  Partially because it’s “half a cup”.  As the only thing I do in the kitchen is bake, I can eyeball half a cup fairly accurately.   And partially cause I care more about enjoying my ice cream than I do about losing weight ;)   Ice cream is a favourite summer treat and I’ll quite happily record 4x the serving size and f it ;)

But for whatever reason, today I measured.  And their half-cup must be in melted form!  Lol. A legit serving by weight was a larger amount than I would ever serve myself.  Win.  Or maybe not ;-P.  But I was amused either way ;)

Girls just wanna have fun

Posting on my phone so text only and likely questionable formatting 😂.  Will look at it after work tomorrow perhaps, but am pretty high after dance class tonight so figured I’d share ;)

So dance this week has been a riot.

Saturday was one of the 2h workshops.  Except that since my brain is fried from commuting (side note - if anyone who supports remote work needs an exceptional transformational change leader or someone to repair a broken team, give me a shout; I love my job, but I despise commuting)

Anyways - since brain was fried, for some reason I was convinced lesson started at 1:30.   Let’s note, it has *never* started at 1:30.  Sometimes 2:00, sometimes 1:00, but never 1:30.   Also, my phone alarm went off exactly when it should’ve to tell me it was dance time, and somehow my brain went “it’s an hour until I have to leave” instead of “it’s an hour until class starts”.

Which means while I was 10 min early for the 1:30 class to allow time to change shoes and chit chat, I was, in-fact, 20 mins late for the *actual* start time.  And completely oblivious.  Those who know me irl will realize how disturbing this is.  Literally never in my life have I done that before.   Not happy.

But what was very cool?   First - when I came in late it was smiles and “Hi Lauren, glad you made it” - such a welcoming environment and so much fun with the women who’ve done a few of these together.  No grief whatsoever about being late or eyerolls or anything.  Just, “glad you’re here”.   Then secondly, those first 20 mins are usually the most important for me, because it’s where you learn all the steps of the routine in the right order, build them up, ask questions, etc.   I was caught up in less than 5 mins and didn’t have to hold anyone else back to do so.   A few months ago, I wouldn’t have had a hope in hell at that.  I needed every single slow motion repetition to be able to follow.  Now?  As soon as I knew the pattern, good to go.   Partially transferable skills for sure - years of memorizing courses and dressage tests means it’s not hard for me to follow and memorize a pattern, but more - I’m more comfortable w the footwork so I don’t have to break every piece down as much, and I’m slowly starting to feel how the flow works and the logical ‘if I do A, there’s a real good chance B is next’.  And for a complete beginner, that is awesome!   Also essentially the same win for two hobbies in the same week.  Maybe I should stop while I’m ahead?

Nah - next step - figure out how to do more than 3 things w my arms lol.  Arms are getting embarrassingly repetitive.   And still so very awkward.

So then tonight was the normal class, but it didn’t run like a normal class (aka instruction then practice then refine, rinse and repeat), instead it was more follow the leader dance.   Listen to the first few beats, figure out what style of dance fits (I’m horrible at this!   Alternately, I’m amazing creative at making theoretically inappropriate dances fit songs w off-beat rhythms ;), then follow the steps as called out/led by instructor. 

So this was mostly *fast* - which, not shockingly, is what I enjoy most - highly entertaining, and again served to get through to my little brain that while I still feel about as graceful as a toddler in a mud puddle, I have, in-fact, learned something.  Because a few months ago there’s no way I could’ve kept up, much less tried to add one of my very small repertoire of arm movements in.  Of the whole night, I think there was only one step I completely missed, although there were two or three that I wasn’t quite on beat lol;  that actually isn’t usually a problem for me but I was kinda in my own world lol which, while lovely, does not contribute to successful dance execution ;)

There was a photographer there today 😂. I might’ve actually been excited about since real pros can make even beginners look good, if only I weren’t literally wearing the baggiest most unflattering clothing I own to avoid sunburn pain *sigh*.  Fail.

So anyways - super high, super excited, and super bummed to have to commute again tomorrow :(.  But so very glad FB targeted ads connected me to the world of Social Ease Dance Studio.

Brilliance and Disaster

So after being so excited the other day at learning something, I crashed back pretty hard to Earth today.  I sent some writing exercises to my Spanish teacher.  They came back w a LOT of corrections lol.  Some were admittedly of the typo/laziness variety but others are definitely legit.  I made some comment to C about the amount of corrections and he responded w “yeah I know what that feels like” lol.  I’m sure you can imagine who’s usually the one editing his work.   

But actually this was incredibly motivational because A - I know how exponentially his writing has improved and the ego side of me says if he can do it, so can I *g* and B - the biggest learning curve he faced wasn’t technical writing, it was in knowing how to answer a question or present an argument effectively.   And *that* I can already do.  So just a ton of painful grammar and I’m set.

I’m just glad my Spanish teacher seems to find this mildly amusing and despite his insane schedule and our respective timezone differences, he seems very supportive of helping me attempt the impossible ;-P.   Which he doesn’t seem to think nearly as impossible as I do, but, well, he’s already fluent ;-P

Enough baby steps will eventually get you where you're going

So I was doing some Spanish drills of the multiple-choice variety the other day; and when I had my next lesson, my teacher asked me how it'd gone.   I said I had no idea lol.  Some of it seemed easy, and some of it I had no idea, so I picked what "sounded right" but couldn't tell you either why it was right or the other options were not.   Also, I had zero confidence I was correct, and less than zero by the end - which was also interesting in itself.

So we went through them; the ones I was confident on, were correct.  But what interested me was that the majority of the ones that "sounded right" were also correct.   Which means while I'm still a ways from fluent, I'm starting to internalize what it should be.  I have no confidence in those abilities because I'm the type who always wants to understand *why* something is the way it is, but I'm still considering it a step in the right direction.   I've been feeling stalled lately - the intermediate plateau is not fun.   Even less so when you self-taught the beginner levels and are now paying for vocabulary holes *g*.  So I'm actually really excited now at this "proof" that it's getting better...

Mini wins are important!

My new favourite mental-health recharge location

So sometime last summer Jill and I were chatting about silent retreats; I mentioned that I’d really love to go to one but only if it was non-religious (or at least participation not required) and had food I would enjoy.   Well that proved to be an impossible combination because while there were many for which belief in their religion was optional, there were none that had any food that would even slightly appeal to me (admittedly a very picky eater w the pallet of an 8yo, but seriously, also extremely easy to do - like I can live off eggs bread and cheese for a remarkably long time).

Anyways - I have still failed to find my dream escape, but Jill suggested a spa day and found a spa with a silent area.  Awesome!   Based off the Scandinavian (I think!) concept of hot, cold, relax this spa had hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, and rock beds for hot, cold tubs (really cold - like 7deg c; genuinely felt like stepping into an ice bath), and relaxation areas.   The way it was laid out, about 2/3 of the area was social - you could chat all you want.  And people were, in multiple languages :).  The other 1/3 was very clearly signed everywhere “silence is golden”.   There are no cell phones permitted past the change rooms.  Win.

Figured it'd be easier to explain by just sharing the map ;)

I’ve been pretty stressed at work lately and working a ton of extra hours, so was pleased to have a relaxation day.   Even more pleased when I saw it was supposed to be 25 deg and sunny.  Win!   It was cold and rainy last week.  

So we got there - Vetta Spa, for the curious - the place is gorgeous and pretty much in the middle of nowhere, although I definitely heard the occasional train in the distance.  You’re given a wristband that both works your locker and is tied to your CC in case you want to buy anything lol.   The lockers were a royal pain to open and close - there was a real knack to it that I never mastered.  Concept was brilliant, execution not so much.  That’s pretty much the only negative though.   Lots of staff around and every single one of them I spoke to was friendly and positive; whoever is in charge of hiring is doing something right.

We started in the talking zones till we figured stuff out, and also cause we haven’t seen each other in a while so talking is fun :).  Hot tubs were hot - we lasted about 10 of the recommended 20 mins.  Cold tubs were painful.  The first time I’m not sure I made it past ankle deep about 3 seconds (the suggestion is 30s-3 mins).  There was another woman sitting on the bench calm as could be as though it was perfectly lovely.  She is my hero.   There were a large number of people through the day who completely committed to the cold - would go all the way in and dunk their heads.   I only ever got as far as my knees.  Jill did more of them than I and got to her waist.  Others told us it gets easier w practice.   It did seem like the body parts that got dunked legit felt better after, but not at the time for sure!

After the first dunk we chose hammocks as our warm.   It wasn’t yet quite warm and she-who’s-always-cold had a towel blanket for a bit although J was fine without.  But lying down it got warm quickly as you really didn’t feel the breeze.   So we lay and chatted for a while which was lovely.

Next round we tried the steam room.  Walking in it was nearly impossible to breathe - both of us instinctively covered our mouth and nose to make a space for the air to cool till we adjusted.  It felt like the hot equivalent of when you walk outside in -30 and the air freezes your lungs.   

Anyways, within seconds the sweat was pouring off.   I don’t like saunas in general but for some reason the steam room actually felt good?   I genuinely don’t know why, but I would definitely do it again.   Except I was having real issues w my contact lens in there so after a couple mins I bailed to save it.

Cold is always water so that was the same throughout.

Then we hit up a different set of hammocks lol, working our way around.   There were lots of other “warm” options including reading rooms (this place is open in winter too), Muskoka chairs around a fire, lounge chairs, etc

Jill wanted to go get some more water, so I stayed at the hammocks.  Related squirrel moment - Have I mentioned I’d had less than 3h sleep the night before?   Literally, not exaggerating.  And I drove because I’m the only one w a transponder (for those not in GTA - our one and only toll route is wildly expensive, esp at rush hour, but less so with a transponder).  So apparently by this point I was pretty tired.   And while J was gone, I fell very asleep.  When she got back she woke me up long enough to tell me she’d brought me water too and was going to explore the sauna. All good. I decided I’d stay and read and suggested she come back when she’d finished her next hot/cold adventure.

Here’s where I f’d up.  I didn’t even open my book.  I was asleep, and I mean *really* asleep, in seconds.   J did her thing and came back and knowing how exhausted I was and the whole point of being there was to relax, let me sleep.  Because A, she is an awesome human, and B, she doesn’t need me to entertain her.  She read a bit, did another lap of hot and cold, read a bit more, and I woke up an entirely new human.  Felt wonderful and also amazed (usually I’m the lightest sleeper on the planet - it’s a royal pita).  

And off we went in search of the stone bed.  We’d heard it was great for being a lizard lol and we’re both a little confused as to what it actually was.  But this was also in the silent area so seemed a good time to go there now that we kinda got how it all worked.  Well it was basically a room of heated stone beds, and it was pretty much heaven.   Felt like when you lie down on a hot deck after getting out of the just-a-bit-too-chilly lake.  And I promptly fell asleep again lol.  To be fair, this time J did too!

When I woke up I could feel all the signs of too much heat, so got out v fast.  Fortunately there was a cold pool a couple feet away.  That’s the one I made it the farthest into and it definitely pretty instantly reversed all the panicky “too hot” alarms going off in my body.   Then went over to a firepit in the silent area and read for a bit.   J got in another cycle while I was reading (she was targeting trying every option once while I was not interested in any of the saunas).

Anyways, we were starting to head back and I figured one last hot tub.  This is when I started to understand my fuck-up.   I stepped into the tub and just about screamed.  It felt like it was burning.  But all the tubs are within the same temp as each other.  Right.  It wasn’t too hot - I was.   It’s May.  In Canada.   My body hasn’t seen sunlight in months.  Sunscreen somehow didn’t occur to me.  And I slept, in the afternoon sun, unprotected, for hours.  Fuck.   

J wanted to do the salt scrub room (supposed to be the last thing you do before you leave) but A - I really wasn’t interested in more steam/sauna and B - I was beginning to think salt was going to feel the opposite of good on my skin :(

So we agreed to meet at the warm pool - one pool that’s an actual comfortable sitting temp and has a waterfall (those who know me will understand how much of a draw that is).   Well it was fine even with my slightly toasted skin and I went and sat behind the waterfall which was almost as heavenly as the stone bed given the cooler spray, the sound drowning the noise of people, and the sun shining through the water.  Kinda lovely.   

But more sun wasn’t what I needed, so I moved to a shady area till Jill was done her last adventure.   She also went and explored the falls before we decided to pack it up and head home.   In the change room, I saw the first signs of how badly I’d fucked up.  I was red.  Really angry red.  Pretty much everywhere.  And not the kind of “oops” red that fades the next day either.

Sure enough, today is that next day.  I can’t remember ever having been so badly burnt.   So incredibly unpleasant.   Thank god it was warm out so I could wear light and soft clothing.  Even my hands and feet are burnt.  And my armpits?!?!   I clearly was sleeping w my arms over my head - which I do, so not surprising but…. Ow.   So much ow.

I often say stupid should hurt.  This time it did.   But other than that it was a lovely day :)

Introducing Bumbling Bob, who may well take over the world some day

I mean, arguably the crowd on the right is going to improve it for the person on the left...

So I’ve been playing w Chat GPT for a while now - just the free text version so can’t do anything cool w art or anything. And I’m coming to think of it as an eager but super green assistant lol.  Like it kinda gets the point of the ask but needs some help to get to the answer.

At first I was just asking random stuff like you would in Google - I hadn’t yet figured out the difference.  Then I was chatting w someone who needed info on moving health care from BC to ON but was swamped and stressed and it was just one thing too many.  So I figured I had a few minutes one evening and would try to find it for her.  But, let’s be honest, navigating Canadian government websites is kinda the opposite of fun lol.   So cue Bob.

Squirrel intermission:  Why Bob?   Well I asked ChatGPT what human name it wanted to be called and it told me it didn’t have an opinion but most people called it ChatGPT or ChatBot - so Bot became Bob until I get a better idea.   I also asked it what a good name would be for AI and its answer started with “AI systems are generally not sentient…”. Generally?!?!   Wtf??? 

So…. I pushed that one too and asked if there are any sentient AIs?   Full answer here - the last paragraph was moderately terrifying:

As an AI language model, I can provide an answer based on the current state of technology and knowledge. To the best of my knowledge, there are no fully sentient AI systems currently in existence. While AI has made significant progress in recent years, all AI systems to date are still fundamentally based on algorithms and lack the self-awareness and consciousness that are often associated with sentience.

While some AI systems may be able to simulate human-like behavior or respond in ways that seem intelligent, they are ultimately still governed by the rules and limitations of their programming. Additionally, the idea of sentient AI raises a host of ethical and philosophical questions that are still being debated by experts in the field.

It's worth noting, however, that AI technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and there is always the possibility that a truly sentient AI system could be developed in the future.

Right….  Okay so until we get there, let’s go back to Bumbling Bob our eager but only mostly useful student assistant.

I asked Bob to solve my info about moving health care and he was about 90% right.  The only thing that was wrong was he mentioned a three-month waiting period in Ontario that is out of date as there is no longer any waiting period.  The rest was all good and it definitely saved me some time even though I still spent time verifying.   

And that’s a sign of how I see a ton of jobs changing as this tech becomes more effective- we’ll need people who can think critically and evaluate the info given (which we all know is a shortage atm!) and also who can ask questions in an effective way to get useful answers from an AI.  Eg - programming may not be a career 10 years from now but being able to convey what should be programmed could be.   Honestly, if that had been an option in my undergrad days I might’ve actually used that CS degree lol.

Anyways - another example of asking the right question was today.   I needed a title for a new project at work.  I’d been bouncing ideas around w some friends and colleagues and not found *quite* the right idea.  

So I was about to start randomly googling this and legit considering asking my actual coop student if she had time to put some effort in, but I didn’t want to distract her from her actual work so then I remembered Bob.   And Bob’s first answer came up completely correct and completely inappropriate lol

A good word that starts with L and means thoughts, ideas, musings, etc. is "lucubration". It refers to the act of studying or writing something with great care or deep thought, especially during the night. It can also mean a piece of writing that is the result of such an effort.

And, like many enthusiastic yet green, when I explained why I couldn’t use that one, Bob performed pretty closely to my usual interns lok

What I told it: “Lubrication has too many sexual connotations, what’s one I can use in an office context?”

It failed to connect that question to the previous request and instead I got that Lubricant is a better word than Lubrication to use in an office context.   Lol thanks Bob.  Again - technically correct, practically useless.

So, as with my students, I took a deep breath and considered how to reposition the question in a way to set them (and therefore me) up for success.   And got *almost* there:

An okay start, but not quite right

So the first one could work but the focus of the blog isn’t actually lessons so close but not quite.   I asked for more, honestly wasn’t expecting much, and got:

lol I wasn't actually expecting the "any other suggestions" to work!

Win!   My personal favourite is actually journey which does not alliterate at all but fits, except that the blog is not actually about a journey so moving on, Lab for the win.   Labs are a hot thing at work these days, suggest evolution and learning, bite sized pieces, AND collaboration which opens the door to suckering (ummmm I mean “inviting”) others to post stuff.   Win.

So my new take is with AI as the worker bee and people as the thinkers and decision makers.   The issue is, how do you get people to be capable thinkers and decision makers without ever being worker bees, and how do you ensure ongoing viable work for all the people who are currently worker bees and have neither interest nor ability to be thinkers / planners / or decision makers….  Those smarter than I will need to figure that out.  I just hope it’s not Bob’s granddaughter who does.

I'm telling you stories. Trust me.

So the other night I went dancing w a girlfriend. Yes you read that right and no I’m not even kidding lol. Definitely high on the list of sentences I never thought I’d write outside of a #FridayFlash.

Yeah - didn't look anything like that ;-P

So where to start…. The idea was Latin dance at a sports bar. Hmmm def seemed a little sketch but ok? Dinner, lesson, dance.

So we showed up for dinner but given that all the tables were moved to make room for a dance floor, this was a very awkward situation and we opted out. On the way we met somebody who encouraged us to stay and/or come back. Which at least got us back. We went and found dinner, which unfortunately meant we missed the lesson.

When we got back the place was *packed* and the lesson was just ending. It looked like a lot of fun and if I did it again I’d prioritize joining the lesson if I could.

Actually had so much fun. It was so crowded that it was easy to blend - zero concern that anybody could care less what I was doing lol. I do think it would’ve been better with a partner but it was still fun w just us girls :). Apparently used to be normal at these things that no matter who you came with, you switched partners every dance. I suspect that’d be either brilliance or disaster lol

Also "used to be normal?!?!" In my entire adult life it never occurred to me that "going dancing" was a thing.  Like the closest equivalent in my experience was clubbing in uni, and - suffice to say - dancing was not actually the primary objective of that activity ;). If I gave any thought to it at all, it would've been pop culture references to the 60s or earlier, not current day, and probably not Latin ;).   I'm both sad and bemused that I didn't realise this was real life decades ago.  Or maybe it wasn't and is making a comeback?   Idk.  Google tells me it really is a thing in Toronto and some GTA.  Alas, does not appear to have made it to Niagara (I can hear C's relief from here).

I mean, what time period comes to mind
when you think of "going dancing"?

I don’t *think* I was the worst dancer there lol although Em (who actually knows how to dance) might disagree. It seemed to me there were some way more lost than I, although there were definitely a few songs that I struggled to figure out which dance would fit the beat - fortunately lots of good dancers made it pretty easy to cheat and get the right answer ;). Was definitely fun to just do whatever I felt like, but flip side, got slightly boring after a while cause I don’t have a huge repertoire to pick from. Also, was so crowded that had to basically dance on the spot which is less fun.  I like to spin ;-P

After a couple hours we noticed a distinct increase in us getting trampled or bumped into, presumably related to the amount of alcohol consumption. Em got stomped by a stiletto and shortly after that we noped out.

Seriously.  They're named after this for a reason!

Overall thought was a fun night, and even just fun to watch some of those who can really dance. Both the age and skill range were quite large and the gender balance was close to equal; maybe slightly more women but not hugely disproportionate. It did definitely recreate the feelings of “I wish I could dance” lol but at least I felt like I could do some of the very basics.  

So yeah - far far out of my comfort zone, and glad Em invited me to go. Was a fun night :).  We won't discuss the drive home where I was foolish enough to assume the 401 would be traversable at midnight ;-P

Introducing Bjorn the Narwhal

Our latest addition :)

Early warning - this post was written over multiple sessions so is both very long and may not be the smoothest of transitions; it's the "as I was going" adventure.

Okay as some of you may know, my mum knits amazing creations. And I LOVE the things she turns out, but for the life of me have not been able to create or sustain an interest in knitting. For all my random hobbies that one just doesn’t appeal. Fail.

But for whatever reason, a couple times I’ve tried crocheting. It’s literally the same concept but somehow it appeals more? Idk. My brain has always been weird ;). But still, it’s never stuck.

However, for whatever reason I began seeing targeted ads for Woobles. Little critters (I like little critters) to crochet (sure why not?) that are completely beginner friendly…. And eventually I clicked through.
It actually is pretty well that simple

Well I started with a “medium beginner” because I didn’t like any of the actual beginner ones enough. The fact that they have three phases of beginner was a good sign to me ;)

It comes pre started, and the videos really do literally walk you through stitch by stitch at the start, so I was pretty pleased. I had to pay a lot of attention, but my little narwhal was taking shape ;). I am really impressed at the 101 level of the videos. Like legitimately “I’ve never done this before” beginner safe - right from how to hold the wool (and both left and right hand versions of the videos)

So far, the switch of colour was the only video that I found not completely idiot proof. It mentioned a slip stitch and that hadn’t been taught yet. Fail. Had a choice of google or make it up as I went along - I made it up ;-P. My narwhal will be unique ;)

I also failed in the colour switch in that I cut the threads way too close, so my little narwhal is definitely fragile ;). The video *did* explain about how to tuck them in and stitch over them, but I was following as it went instead of watching the whole thing first and so definitely didn’t leave nearly enough wool.

Otherwise though it’s been awesome. You can definitely tell where my I got better as the tension between stitches varies wildly at the start, then got too tight for a bit. When it came time to learning to do decrease stitches those tight stitches just about did me in. Lesson learned for next one.

Also, there was a video right at the start about turning it inside out — but that also meant mirroring all the movements. I was way too new to risk trying that, but as I’m getting to the end, I am wondering how I’m going to turn it inside out now ;). We’ll see….

So - the inside out hit sooner than expected cause I had to turn it around to put on the eyes. Plus side - adding eyes is very easy. Down side - wow is my poor Bjorn ever very clearly a first effort lol. Room for improvement we shall say. And now I have to figure out how to stitch backward to finish him… hmmmm

For the record - in the finish video when it tells you to cut the yarn, it’s very clear how far away you should be ;)

Added video that would be useful - how to work the yarn so it doesn’t end up in a bit knot. I had no problem w the blue, but the white was a less than pleasant experience…

So now my Bjorn is a little blue and white ball with eyes. Fins come next - they don’t come pre-started, so I’ll be learning that piece shortly lol. I am loving the very gradual pace of this. I’m not loving how interpretive some of my stitches clearly were lol. Ah well — first time for everything. 

I made a thing!  Or at least this start of a thing :)

For those following the adventures of Bjorn - he now has fins! Lol these did *not* come pre-started. So the first step has the learning of how to crochet basic stitches and switch colours. The second step was how to start from scratch and attach pieces to one another. The first - not so fun. I definitely did it, but it definitely took more than one try. Significant improvement between the first fin and the 2nd though. The attaching was really basic sewing; after a couple years of xstitch and some occasional embroidery, this was not what we will deem a challenge. Next up - tail and horn. 

Starting to look like a real critter

Okay so there was a LONG break of a few weeks between sections, but BJORN now has a tail AND a horn! Woohoo! The tail was moderately confusing - a picture of the finished product would’ve definitely helped, but I followed the instructions and went with what I ended up with 😂 
Hard to get a good photo that shows the funky tail :)

And now I have a Narwhal! For the win :)
Hi Everybody!

And while it is very definitely a beginner effort and even I can see all the opportunities for improvement, I made a thing, it made me smile, and we’re deeming that a win! I have two more to make (a unicorn and a dinosaur) and there’s a phoenix that just came out that I may add to the collection some day ;). But not till the ones I have are made — which is likely *after* nice weather season.

Overall my summary would be:
- These kits are absolutely beginner friendly 
- They are cute, easy to make, and achievable in a short timeframe — easily could’ve been done in a weekend even with no experience. I imagine someone who knows what they’re doing could prob knock it off in an hour or two (less?). 
- If you actually know how to crochet, they are not cost-effective. But looking at the pattern alone (also included) would’ve been completely overwhelming to starting from scratch beginner. They DO teach you to read the pattern as you go so it’s not quite so scary in the end ;)

Transferrable skills from riding to dance? Sure - why not?

Dance Fusion class today.  I was, shall we say, not the least bit interested in going.  Lol I was not feeling super hot - really dragging getting going in the am.   AND it's the first nice weekend day since last fall.  Going to an indoor activity?  Not super high on my list.

I was definitely more in a chips kinda mindset ;)

But...  I'd already committed, and I do *really* enjoy dance class so...  🤷‍♀️ 

Pull into the parking lot like 5 mins before class starts and, it's empty?   Usually it's packed and the problem is there's no spaces.   Wondering if I'd missed a memo?   But as I walked to the door I saw two other people coming down the street whom I recognized from our Tues class so probably okay...   Open the door and it's packed?   Lol turns out everyone assumed there would be no parking and parked on the street.  Amazing.

Lots of familiar friendly faces when I walked in.  I give Michelle (coach) a great deal of credit for creating a very welcoming culture.   Changed into my fancy dance shoes and we got started right away.   The concept of the Saturday ones is a 2h session to learn choreography end-to-end for one song.  Could be any mix of styles.  Lol this one was something I've never heard of before and already forgotten.  Google is not helping me at all atm.  I'll find out and update ;). *edited later - oh the boss got back to me.  Apparently it's Cumbia.  Who knew?*

Anyways - was SO much fun.  Enjoyed this one a lot more than the last one.  It felt easier - idk if it actually was, or if I've managed to improve between the two lol.  Potentially both?   Either way, lots of fun.  Enjoyed that this one travelled a lot more -- most of the time we stay mostly in one place with the dances -- at least partially cause of the practicality of 15-20 people in a room, you can only move so far before crashing into people ;).   Not that there *wasn't* crashing into people in this one.  😂.  But it was entertaining.

We did an arm styling class last week that I entirely failed to apply today lol but overall did at least manage to move my arms more often than not and the footwork is definitely becoming easier.   With arms - getting better at including them, but it usually feels very awkward.   Or it feels awesome but then I have *zero* belief that it LOOKS awesome.   Some day ;).   It is fun though.   And I'm continuing to improv my mimic skills.  I can't really come up with anything on my own, but I'm getting better at doing whatever someone more talented than I does ;)

It's literally a meme.  Sheesh.

Interesting for me just this week was cluing in to 3 very distinct advantages from a lifetime of riding.   I had never realised before, but between Tuesday's class and today all kinds of people were struggling and eventually determined that's why I wasn't.   First is physicality -- core strength, balance, and posture (not sure if that's one or three, but for my purposes it's one).  That's kinda a given but it actually helps ;).  The number of people I've told to "drop their shoulder blades into their back pockets" in dressage and I literally heard that exact instruction given to the group on Tues.   The second is the ability to easily memorise a fairly long pattern and to pretty quickly apply what the mirror image will be is almost instinctual after decades of dressage tests.  And the last, for the win, "don't look down".  Lol the number of times I heard that, or "look up!", directed even at otherwise really good dancers, was a riot.  In riding, looking down has far more serious consequences than just missing a step ;).  So that was fun.   

I'm starting to not feel completely lost each time.  And I'm definitely no longer the greenest or least-coordinated person in the group.   Music lessons from a lifetime ago / piano this year likely help too (I feel it's more the ones from a lifetime ago realistically) -- with things like being able to find and follow a beat or phrase, and understanding syncopation reasonably easily (if you're syncopating anything on horseback, something has gone *horribly* wrong).  lol.   But to me, this is part of why both teaching adults and learning as an adult is in many ways more interesting -- a lifetime of random experiences contributes in strange and unusual ways...

So yeah, still having a ton of fun, and really glad I went in the end ;).  I will 100% have forgotten the whole thing by morning.

*updated to add* OMG there's video.  Lol and I'm thoroughly hidden in the middle so willing to share.  I had zero idea this was being recorded and I'm guessing was right after teh break - it definitely got better ;).  But if you're curious...

Fire burns brightest in the darkness

Writing blog posts by the campfire is just about as perfect as it gets for my introverted self.   Super relaxing and puts me in a pretty instant happy place.

Sashabear, quiet, and a fire.   Heaven.

Said fire was a bit of a splurge.  Which makes it all the more fun ;).  We were always intending some landscaping this year - gardens are the primary objective and 2 trees.  And in our plan there was a fire pit.  We were planning a traditional “dig the whole, put rocks around it” type of situation.  Which we have space for but may or may not technically be legal in suburbia (we hadn’t really investigated ;)

But then a friend sent me a pic of her relaxing w her new fire pit, including a recommendation.  This is not a friend who generally (ever?) suggests products without being asked her opinion.  And since it was a perfect night for such a thing and I like fires, I clicked through.

And discovered they’re on sale right now.   Flipped it to C who mentioned he’d looked into them before but usually too expensive.  But… sale - one that brought it into the same price range as our DIY plan.  They are also far more legal.  Win ;)

It arrived quickly (like 1-2 days?) and after finding a handful of firewood away I went.   We have the stand to put it on the deck but I haven’t been that brave yet lol. 

I don’t *love* the look of it - far more C’s style than mine.  But we’re going to get a surround for it so then that’ll solve even that “problem” ;)

Because there have been a lot of questions, I figured I’d try to answer them here:

  • advertised as smokeless.  This depends on how you interpret “smokeless” lol.  It literally smokes less than a normal campfire.  By a lot.  It is *not* smoke free.  At the start of the fire there is just as much smoke as always.  The difference is once it gets hot (10-15 min in) there is very little smoke.  And, what smoke there is in the start tends to be better funnelled so is easier to avoid.
  • It is light and easy to move around; slightly awkward because of the shape but I had no problem moving it myself.
  • It has excellent airflow so is both easy to light and easy to keep going.  Downside - that excellent airflow means it consumes logs *very* quickly
  • The outside stays cool to the touch longer than you’d expect (although it does get very hot!) and cools completely within about an hour of the fire going out
  • The fire is still “real” snap, crackle, pop, look and smell like a normal campfire
  • You are limited in size of logs.  This has not been an issue for us at all with “average” size logs donated to our collection (thanks Janie!) but if you’re doing the splitting be aware of limits
  • It throws a lot of heat - but said heat isn’t dispersed very far.
  • Clean up is quite easy; would’ve been even smarter if the *whole* bottom came out but it’s still quick and easy to do.   It’s smartly designed so that when it comes time to put it away, all the pieces (eg the deck/grass stand) can be stored inside it and it has its own carrying case.
  • You will need *some* tools - dropping a log in without tongs is seriously hazardous and given the small size a poker is pretty critical.   On more traditional campfires these things are also helpful but it’s easier to reasonably safely do without.   My poker atm is a stick I found.  Lol this has taught me that like the average child, I still drawing in the air w fire ;). Lack of tongs has burned me once already.  They will be here in a day or two.
  • Plus side - portable.  If we decided to move again, the deck and gardens have to stay here but the fire pit comes w us. 

If you decide you’re interested, the one we got is a SoloStove Bonfire 2.0.  It seems to be the midsize of their options.  Enjoy!