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Category: goals

01/30/11 08:14 - 24.ºF - ID#53513

Factoring February

I skipped yoga as well as salsa this past week because of grad-school worries. And an alarming proportion of my hair is edging towards white. I have concentric worry lines under my eyes and I think I am slowly losing my mind whatever meagre muscle I have on my body. But then, when did I ever let something like that stop me from making wild resolutions? Never. So in February, I will
  • Do a whole lot more of statistics with R Fridays and Saturdays
It helps that I actually like R as opposed to hating SAS.
  • Salsa Salsa Salsa Thursdays

I am dropping out of the intermediate class. I am not good enough for all the complicated patterns and frustrate myself in the process. And something about that class edges me out of happy mode. Could be one of the leads or a combination of things... I don't want this minor detail derailing my fascination with salsa music and dance. The beginner's sessions with Sean and Sarah, on the other hand, are pure magic and I feel like a sufi saint in them...

  • Yoga and Hip Hop Wednesdays
Erin at Hand to Heart (Bryant & Elmwood) is a really amazing guide. I might add the Wednesday evening Hip-Hop yoga to my vinyasa sessions. Who knows, someday you might see me suddenly twisting into this pose:

I guess that leaves the first three days of the week for having massive freak-outs about graduating. Fair enough.
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Permalink: Factoring_February.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/31/11 10:27

Category: eating in

01/25/11 09:44 - 29.ºF - ID#53496

Food processor Vs. Blender Vs. Wand Vs. Knife

So I had this interesting argument about the functions of a food processor vs. a Blender vs. a Stick/Wand Blender and a knife today afternoon with a couple department-mates.

Do you think a food processor can completely replace a blender, stick/wand blender AND a knife? Really? When I think of food processor, I think of mushed up poorly cut vegetables. How many of you have ALL the above in your kitchen? I have everything except a food processor. I get immense pleasure in chopping stuff down to cookable units with a variety of knives. Should I be lusting after a food processor? Can a food processor knead bread or cookie dough? What can a food processor do that a combination of the other three can't? If you were setting up your minimalist kitchen, would you choose a food processor over the other three?
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Permalink: Food_processor_Vs_Blender_Vs_Wand_Vs_Knife.html
Words: 145
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/25/11 09:47

Category: the odes

01/25/11 08:21 - 29.ºF - ID#53494

Stressed out.

Things have not been going smoothly of late. Too many failures, too much uncertainty, too many iffy outcomes, too many hashed presentations, too many negative vibes, too little inspiration, drained out ideas... I really want this phase to end and a better phase to roll around. All of this is wrecking havoc on my sleep. I used to sleep at least 3 hours at a stretch. Now I get up every 1.5 hours with random nightmares and stretches of worry about whether I will ever graduate and whether my dissertation will ever reach completion.


I somehow need to claw back into focus, re-prioritize everything and fast-track somehow. Just not sure how to successfully spin into that resolve. I guess the new salsa shoes aren't really of much help here...

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Permalink: Stressed_out_.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/25/11 09:15

Category: dance

01/25/11 07:31 - 29.ºF - ID#53493

Salsa for the Soles

I came home to these strangely attractive eccentric-looking extremely light shoes today. Their passing resemblance to football shoes is deceptive. Instead of the turf-gripping evil field spikes, the soles of this pair of Gabellini "The Fly" are layered with salsa-smooth suede instead.

They fit me like a glove. I am seriously floored. The floor feels like an alternative padded universe through every inch of their suede soles. Balancing on the balls of my feet feels very natural and my turns feel almost effortless compared with every other shoe I have ever worn or tried out... But I guess their real test will be in class. Can't wait to try them out! Come and see them in some salsa action at Lexington & Ashland, 7 PM Thursdays with Sarah Hooper & Sean Ortiz! :-)

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Permalink: Salsa_for_the_Soles.html
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Last Modified: 01/25/11 07:43

Category: e:strip

01/22/11 12:58 - 13.ºF - ID#53474

Back in the day...

this was how you reacted to a not-phone.

PS: I finally figured out the folder structure. :-)

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Permalink: Back_in_the_day_.html
Words: 20
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/22/11 12:58

Category: e:strip

01/21/11 08:56 - 11.ºF - ID#53470

Feliz Cumpleaños, Paul!


I hired these lazy blokes to come and sing at your doorstep, but they didn't want to come out in the snow. They sent you a representative performance instead.


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Permalink: Feliz_Cumplea_os_Paul_.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/21/11 09:21

Category: dance

01/21/11 04:35 - 19.ºF - ID#53463

The Reverse-Kafka

How exactly do I transform from this...

to this...

I currently have ZERO skills at isolating body-sections and then moving them in staggered-cohesion. Add to that stick-like everything and you have a winning insect combination.

The Salsa diary for this week reads:

10. I finally realized that I like dancing the salsa because I am fascinated by the music, its variations and the whole culture surrounding the music and the dance that has evolved with this music. It is to me, a study of an unspoken yet a well-enunciated language and its often-surprising dialects.

9. Took a couple on-2 classes in NYC and fell in love with the variation. I am just as terrible at dancing on-2 as I am at dancing on-1. But somehow, I could relate to the music much better with the on-2 style compared with the on-1 style. But alas, no one teaches the on-2 style in Buffalo.

8. I am not very thrilled about wrestling everyone else (apart from Sean, Sarah and those rare beginner leads who don't have a very large height differential) in class. And because I am so horrible at following people, I am seriously considering practicing just the solo shines and ignoring the fact that it is a partnered dance. After all, I make my own damn rules for anything I like so much.

7. Just look at what kind of awesomeness you can achieve with solo salsa:

Fine! That's the super-goddess of on-2 salsa. Probably imbibed on-2 skills in-utero.

6. Something is holding me back from hip-hop classes. It's not a concrete something but it's definitely some non-concrete vague thing that I haven't figured out yet.

5. I took a structured approach to yogasanas over the weekend and earlier this week and found that my balancing powers are very asymmetric. No wonder I am always stumbling on my quick moves and spins.

4. My made-for-salsa shoes arrive Tuesday. No heels. All suede. I am thrilled beyond words. I don't think ANY pair of shoes have ever generated such anticipation... well maybe those spongy slippers in 2nd grade decades ago, but nothing after that. I spent a couple hours at Capezio's flagship store on Broadway, prancing about in every single "latina" heels they had. They made me dread spins, and I can't take that kind of dread for something I really like.

3. I wish I lived in NYC.

2. I wish I lived in NYC.

1. I wish I lived in NYC.

You can go ahead and hate me for the 1-2-3 now but I can't help it.
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Permalink: The_Reverse_Kafka.html
Words: 428
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/21/11 05:13

Category: dance

01/13/11 11:11 - 13.ºF - ID#53430

I really do take salsa lessons.

Some of the first things people say when I tell them I am taking salsa lessons is:

"Really? I somehow can't visualize you doing salsa."
(Silent me: No one asked you to visualize anything!)

"Really? you wear a dress and heels and all that?"
(Silent me: I don't wear metallic lamé, if that's what you mean.)

"Really? I don't see you moving to salsa?"
(Silent me: Good to know you don't have an eye disorder.)

"Really, you don't look like *that* type."
(Silent me: I will wear a T-shirt that says "that type" prominently on it, next time.)

"Really? I would never have thought!"
(Silent me: Yeah, thinking was never your strong point.)

"Really? When are you starting?"
(Silent me: I guess listening is not your strong point either.)

"Really? You can dance?"
(Silent me: Well. You have seen me walking...)

"Really? Surprising."
(Silent me: What, exactly?)

(Silent me: REALLY!)

Oh, and the worst...
"Really. Hmm (up and down doubtful body-stare)."
(Parkinson me: *annoyed pout*)

It's a weird feeling to receive all these comments. It's the same way when I tell people I love 80s and 90s heavy metal. My dance class (and for that matter, love of heavy metal) is an outlet of tons of fun for me, not some competitive salsa world championship entry practice (or an entry point to a "metalhead" lifestyle).

Screw it all. I love salsa.


PS: I usually invite all of them to Configuration dance studio on Lexington and Ashland to Sarah Hooper and Sean Ortiz's salsa lessons on Thursdays (TODAY!) starting 7:00 PM. You could salsa too if you wanted, regardless of how many "Really??"s you get. :-)
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Permalink: I_really_do_take_salsa_lessons_.html
Words: 279
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/13/11 11:18

Category: science

01/09/11 10:42 - 18.ºF - ID#53415

What a bunch of tripe.

Classic example of why one-line snippet "conclusions" of scientific studies can often lead to a bunch of stupid contradictory recommendations:

I can't believe the University of Buffalo is writing up such unsubstantial fluff to "guide" the public and calling it science-supported! UGH. I especially have issues with:

7. Jack-up your consumption of soy (The evidence is NOT conclusive. I, for one, have trouble believing that the women who ate more soy in that study did not have other healthy habits along with the soy-eating behaviour. (These might not have been the focus of that study.) And I happen to know what dataset that study came from.)

9. Pay with cash at the grocery store to avoid junk food. (I NEVER pay with cash. Ever. Come and take a look at my kitchen, UB news person! If method of payment drove food habits, why don't we just go ahead and ban credit cards. Ever heard of something called an ecological fallacy?)

10. Have a few drinks to boost romance. (Sure. Why not. Eat a chunk of tofu to go along with the alcohol. I am sure that will balance out all the ill-effects of alcohol.)

Badly done, UB. I wish you didn't go about giving misinformed pop-advice and calling it "research-tested". It decreases the credibility of the research that actually went into the studies that this ridiculous list cites.

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Permalink: What_a_bunch_of_tripe_.html
Words: 230
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/09/11 10:45

Category: dance

01/07/11 12:35 - 26.ºF - ID#53404


I stayed on for both the beginner and the intermediate salsa-for-the-soul classes today. Only, it didn't turn out quite as smooth on my soles. And I mean that in a very literal sense.

I was a whole 15 minutes late for the beginner's class because the HSBC ATM on Elmwood and Utica was out of order. Why does it have to be the one day that I forgot to withdraw cash in the morning?! So I ran around in the snow looking for another ATM and found a random one at some sleazy bar that charged me $2.50 extra for the money. I think the patrons at the bar got a kick out of all my hurry to get the money out and some of them were shouting "welcome to (whatever that bar was called)" as I rushed out. I swear it sounded like welcome to hotel california! So weird. I should have chosen the one at the petrol pump.

I finally stomped into class and then, in a completely miscalculated and misguided move, I tried to put Gaffer tape all over my "dance-designated" shoe-soles to make them spin better. It was as if an evil tiny voice in my coat hood was telling me to delay dancing even further by trying ludicrous things at the last minute. For those not in the know, Gaffer tape is a matté take on duct tape. It is used for residue-free sticking jobs in studios and in the entertainment industry.


It sounded like a good temporary fix for sticky shoes and thus, better spins in theory. Alas, the ridiculously fancy-looking tape reverted and stuck to the floor as I danced. So I had to peel it all off in the end. I am sure I annoyed Sarah and Sean with all my deranged flitting-about near the studio door.

To add to the general stickiness of the dance floor, someone else in the class, quite unfortunately, came in with their street boots (I did not!!) and there was water on the floor near where I put my dance anchor down. As a result, spinning, on the whole, was a disaster yet again. I tried wiping the water off with the tissue I had but some wet spots remained. Thankfully, Sarah took care of them later.

I guess I will need to pick my dance spot carefully next time, move away from anyone wearing street boots and wear heels with suede. I am done wearing flat boots and feeling like.. well a flat waddling duck. This probably means wearing dress socks under the wool socks I usually wear, and then maybe I will look like a duck with boots on?

Anything for salsa!!!!

Apart from all the sticky sole drama, the beginner class was a blast. I met this really cool person who had a lovely name that I just can't remember now. Mariposa? That Alzheimer's must be creeping up on me faster than I think. Thanks to my diminished faculties, we will henceforth refer to her as Mariposa. I think her name was really quite different and I am losing my touch here but let's not squabble over scrabble and get on with the story.

So the point was, Mariposa's whole being invigorated everyone around the studio. I wish I were more like her and less like loony here-but-not-really-there me. I LOVED her energy as she danced... darn it, I wish I could remember her real name. She lighted up the proceedings and at one point, while we were dancing, suddenly swept me off the floor - I honestly have no idea how she did that!!?! Maybe she has trained in martial arts? Apparently, my stick-like forearms and frame have no weight at all and people can't even feel them.

Now, that is some cause for concern - to be so unsubstantial as to be weightless. Maybe I need to do some weight-training and put some muscle on? I wish I had some of the muscle of that enviable wikipedia salsa woman.

Which brings me to another little hitch in my dancing technique. Salsa is very much about dynamics and part of the dynamics are developed through a push-and-pull kind of movement. It's almost like you and your dancing partner are on opposite ends of a huge elastic band and you take turns at pushing and pulling the band as you dance. The beats that accompany salsa music also undulate and then tighten. The music and the synchronous dance steps are the basis to the elastic push-pull-push rhythm of salsa. Something like this - pay attention to the hands..

(Yeah, I don't have a clue what they were on about, either.)

The thing is my push-pull-push technique is frankly, quite awful. I annoyed the hell out of another student in the class, who has been dancing for a while, with all my ineptness at the "elastic band" moves. When Sean or Sarah is leading, I hardly feel as if I am a bad follower but my lack of skills as a follower are magnified with everyone else. This is probably why I can't dance effectively outside of class, yet. I am hoping that things get better with each class... I have faith that they will but dance is like a language. Without immersion and practice, it's going to be an uphill task.

Oh and I learnt this absolutely awesome 70s disco-like move where you almost moonwalk sideways by alternately pivoting with your left heel and toe as you move sideways to your right. It was so cool to be able to do that step that I wished that salsa didn't have to be a partnered dance. There is definitely some scope here for "salsa battles" with individual dances. Maybe I should join the hip hop class and incorporate salsa moves into it. There are some interesting possibilities to where I want to take my sudden interest in salsa. I just feel that, with no current or even future practice partners, my partnered salsa will never really get better - so why not work more intensively on an individual style...

PS: I guess the salsa class drawing-muse theory isn't working. My mad drawing skillz are worse than a 1st grader. Pfft. On a positive note, at least they are accurate. If someone is desperate enough to ask me what I look like on film, I can comfortably point at my strikingly-lifelike self-portrait here.

PPS: I also danced with Sarah for a bit today and found that not all people have a hair texture like a street-sweeping broom. I am so used to the texture of my hair as I comb it with my hands everyday that it comes as a sensory surprise when someone's hair feels like silk. Her's does. It took me by surprise so much that I actually said it out loud. And I winked back at Mariposa across the studio a minute later. Two completely unrelated things... that are bothering me slightly right now. Maybe I shouldn't care so much.

Salsa for the soul, indeed.
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Permalink: Push_Pull_Push.html
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Last Modified: 01/07/11 03:28



New Site Wide Comments

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

joe said to grandma
OMG welcome!...

joe said to mike
New years resolution to top (e:strip)?...