Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ballroom Dance, Revisited

A long while ago, I mentioned that I take a ballroom dance class...and enjoy it.

It's true. Really. Damn lot of fun.

The class I take is social ballroom dance through the Ballroom Dance Club at the University. It's a great way to meet people, get to know people, have something in common with them, have an excuse to interact with them.

Taking these lessons has done several things for me. First, I've become remarkably more balanced and lighter on my feet[1]. I walk more on the balls of my feet, rather than on my heels. I feel like I move with a little bit more grace and ease, I feel more comfortable with my step, more sure of where that foot will land.

Friends of mine who have studied martial arts of various sorts say the same thing about their balance and surety of step. They speak of how the are more aware of their physical self. Martial arts also tend to add a grace and beauty of movement to the practitioner. The similarities end there, however. Where ballroom is an dance of graceful seduction (if apply to that end), martial arts is a dance of graceful violence.

The second things that I've really gotten out of the class is a bit more ease with the opposite sex. I've always been a bit awkward in my interactions, unless I become friends with a woman, which in itself is a whole other story.

The class is configured as such: the leads all stand in a line on one side of the gym, the follows on the other. The steps are taught to each side individually, and then the follows are told to find a partner. The pairs dance a for a bit, familiarizing themselves with the move. After a few moments, they are told to switch partners and the follows switch down one partner.

So what does this have to do with me becoming more comfortable with woman? Every semester I dance with forty different woman, some I know, most I don't. I have to make them comfortable with the idea of dance with me, even if it is only going to be for a moment. I doing so, I also have become more comfortable with asking my classmates to dance - there are occasionally open dance periods. It all stems from confidence gained from becoming slightly more skilled at this whole thing.

Granted, I've become a bit of the old man in the group. This is, after all, a University club. Many of the students are undergrads, and, more so, freshman undergrads. I'm older then most by about ten years. Not really an issue, since I'm neither creepy nor obsessive (nor ugly, if I do say so myself).

All in all, it has been a really good experience for me. It's a great skill, although, one that has is harder and harder to find the appropriate social situations in which to use it. It's a great social tool, enhancing interaction, and a remarkable amount of fun.[2]

[1] Now, I'm not using the phrase "light in my loafers," if that's what your thinking. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

[2] As you can see, I'm still really lax on the art of the conclusion. It's as if I start these things with very little idea as to where I'm going. I know that I've had this discussion before, but I'd like to point out that I'm pretty much writing my essays in the same format as I learned in high school. You know the format: an introduction, two to three middling points, and a conclusion. This format is rather tried and true at getting one's point across.

Let's look at this essay a little more critically, through the lens of the high school essay format.

First off, the introduction makes not point at reference what it's going to talk about, other then ballroom dance. No mention of physical movement or opposite-sex interaction. So we're left wonder where the hell is he going?

Secondly, how are these points tied together? Did the art of physical movement affect the author's opposite-sex interactions? It was described as a dance of seduction, if applied correctly. Has the author applied it correctly? If not, the author should supply us with a story of it applied incorrectly, described with great flourish, humor, and self-deprecating commentary. If there is no story, the author certainly hasn't been doing this often enough.

As for that conclusion, holy crap, it's lame.

My advice to the author: don't quit your day job.[3]

[3] Hey, now, I appreciate your criticism, but let's remember, this is just an exercise. I'm just writing about what I know and feel about a particular subject. There isn't necessarily supposed to be too much connecting either part.[4]

[4] Well, look at it this way. Your now having a public dialog with your internal critic. You've just bumped up against the crazy ceiling. I was just telling you what I thought about your writing, but now I think you've slipped into something more along the lines of a crazy nutter.[5]

[5] I was merely responding to your criticism, and here you go responding with name calling. How's that for being the internal critic. Not very constructive, mind you. Not helpful at all.[6]

[6] Bloody crazy nutter, you are.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Force Feedback

So I posted a little note from my BlackBerry (which, I'm now of the opinion, are the spawn of Satan) the other night. It started me thinking on how easy it is these days to upload real-time information about the inner most thoughts of any human being.

Why does that seem like an incredible waste of technology?

There are some impressive possible uses for the instant access to the journalistic tools. The most obvious one being journalism. Having a journalist in the thick of things and sending in a story, written as it happens is wonderfully powerful. The reader can be connected instantly to the joy, unrest, terror or mundane of the world.

There are two issues with this. The first being the problem of aggregation. Mobile blogging or instant journalism has created an explosion of information and opinions on the events of the day. Collection, assessing and absorbing all of this information becomes an huge task for any one person. Data aggregation is becoming a big focus of development efforts (Google Reader is a good example). Even still, there's a wealth of information that comes in a daily basis.

Does this wealth of information allow us to live our lives in any better fashion? The answer is yes and no. Having access to those pieces of information that directly relate to you in a timely manner is valuable, of course. The problem is that the much of the information isn't directly applicable to one's current affairs. The reader may actually spend more time familiarizing themselves with the news of the day from Joe Blogger[1], reading about Joe's life and spending less time going about their own lives.

Mundane was mentioned early. This is really the second problem with the instant upload of news and information. What is considered news by some is incredibly boring and useless information. When some one blogs about the fact that their friend is in trouble or they had a great time at a concert. All these things may be interesting to four or five people, but, on the whole, generally dull and uninteresting to the rest of mankind.

Which brings me back to my BlackBerry post. I posted that entry about the simple fact that I had a BlackBerry and wanted to write about it. Which really is the most boring, mundane and useless piece of knowledge that I can provide.

[1] Right. So I know that Joe Blogger hasn't actually updated his blog in quite some time. In fact, I just made a wild guess that someone out there actually had created a blog, originally called JoeBlogger for a real sense of anonymity or average Joe quality. It does fit the bill for my point. It's a bunch of small, useless tidbits about a the life some Joe somewhere, telling us all about how his life is going. Is it news? Probably not.

Then again, neither is this.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I've been given a blackberry handset by my work. Interrestingly enough, I find myself already attempting a blog entry.

Here's a question: is too much rapid access to one's personal information?

Perhaps. But, the keyboard is damn slow. More on this in future posts.

Posted from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld