F 1 D 0 - 2004 11 01 at 1720


Yesterday night was Halloween.

I've heard that different communities can set the
official Beggar's Night to be whatever is most useful.

Nobody thought of that around here, but the idea makes
sense to me: the little kids with their parents in tow
do this on Friday or Saturday night, and have Sunday,
all day, to recover and get to bed early for work and

Saturday night I went to the Contradance, and Sunday night
was a work night for me as usual, except they permitted
costumes. Costumes! 

Now, not all that long ago, I loathed dressing up. I didn't
understand the process, and had trouble getting a good idea

This year, my "costume" was a black dress jacket I bought
a few years ago, before moving up north. It's light, for
what it is, and really is black!  

I also had a mask, but the mask part made my face sweat too
much. It had a black hood on the back, and this was like
mosquito mesh. Very fine, very black mesh. When worn backwards
this mask had special properties. Firstly it give me a face
in the back of my head. More importantly, it entirely 
obscured my face and eyes, more than the mask itself. 

One of my friends told me the outfit was truly eerie, and it
made her uneasy. Think about this! A costume so effective,
it really scares someone! Someone who knows me, who likes me!

She really didn't like it, and would have rathered I danced
without it. I have never succeeded in any kind of costume, let
alone a scary costume which is really scary. Just letting you
know it wasn't flattery, but honesty.

So let me whine about contradancing once again.

I love it. I really do. The pace is fast, the musicians cut
right to the bone, and it can make you get high far better
than any drug or alcohol. 

Yes, I said Whine. Our local dance has a lot of dancers
who may know the moves, but don't understand how the moves
connect to the music. Someone suggested we have lots of new
dancers, but they're not the problem, except that they are
learning the problem from the many dancers.

I need a word for the kind of dances we have where you have a
fixed number of footsteps assigned to a short fixed amount of
music. In English dance, Scottish, Irish and here in Contradance
this quality is what makes the dance predictable, and sets the
tenor for the whole thing.

Most of the traditional tunes we hear, and certainly all of
the ones useful at a contradance have 64 beats of music. They
can be jigs, reels, hornpipes and marches, but their important
characteristic 64 counts.  

The average contradance has 6-8 moves, and can certainly be
arranged as 8 specific commands to the dancers. I'll share a
dance, just so we can talk about it.

1 Neighbours Balance and
2 ...Swing
3 Circle Left 3/4 around
4 Partners Swing
5 Long lines forward and back
6 Ladies chain across
7 Balance; 2 quick changes rights then lefts
8 Balance; 2 quick changes rights then lefts

Moves 1 and 2 you have 16 steps. That's it!

Move 3 you have 8 steps, but it's generous since
you only have to go 3/4 around, so time isn't a

Time isn't a problem for moves 1,2 either, except
many people start late, or are swinging someone they
are rather fond of, and would rather not stop swinging
just because of the music.

Time is a problem for the 4th move, since a short
8-count swing is a tease. But that's what's written,
and the dance works well with it.

Ladies chain isn't obviously a generous move, but it
only requires 6 steps.

A well crafted dance has a few places where people who
have lost a count can catch it up without rushing.

But what happens when too many of the dancers consider
the music playing just background, just an advisory?

The contradance loses it's teeth, and it's just a series
of moves one does to music. Perhaps akin to Line Dancing.
(I'm not an expert in Line Dancing, so perhaps you should 
ignore that reference)

Our dances on Saturday night worked out as long as the dance
itself had no moves outside the minor set. I'll explain that:
people danced with the right person if it was their partner,
their neighbour, the other lady, or the other man. 

But interesting dances often borrow people from the next minor
set, and they're called things like "shadow" or your "next 
neighbour"; something else that confused the dancers was a dance
starting with our old neighbours, instead of with our next ones.

These people have been doing this for as long as I have, right?

I'm complaining because it happens for specific reasons. During
the walk through and "teaching" part of the dance, anyone who
doesn't know it should be listening, and certainly not talking
and visiting. At a big dance like ours, we don't go through it a
lot, but often just once before firing up the band. Listening is

But they don't. They miss it, and figure they'll get pushed into
place as needed.

Well, it happens, and sometimes it works, but in a dance where
we're interacting with other people, it's not always possible
to push these people. They have to go there on their own.

Ok. I've whined enough.

My last bout of whining about the Island dance ended up in print!

I saw it. If you are interested in folk dance, you should subscribe
to The Ontario Folk Dance News. I'll send you there on request.

The costumes at the Contradance were rather good. One showed up with
a knive in his back, another dressed convincingly in drag, many people
with simple ears and tails (things which don't make you overheat!).

Yesterday was Sunday. 

I got up late, perhaps at 100pm. It was Daylight 
Savings Day. The clocks all went back an hour.

The sun was out, but for some reason, I kept doing things which 
kept me in the kitchen, or at the computer.

By the time I actually left my home, it was dark out, and I
was truly sad.

It was also cold. It was warm when the sun was shining.
I remember because the windows needed to be open here.

I left the house in a tizzy, a little absentmindedly.

I took my costume in a Price Chopper bag, not my gym
bag. That was a mistake.

So I got to the gym on time for an hour's work out, only
to be there without a lock. I wasn't comfortable leaving
my cards and money unattended for a long time in an open
locker. So I kept the workout short. Fooey.

Maybe I'll stop this report now, and update it when I get
home tonight,  and get a long workout now.

(I'm back)

So here I am about 2h early for Dominion. What to do,
What to do? I found my way into Chapter's Books.

I am always happy there, and should visit it when
I have discretionary time more often. I almost bought
about six books, but in the end decided against all of
them. I hardly ever use cookbooks, so unless they're
truly mind opening, I'll read them at the book store,
and let them live there.

My costume at Dominion was a success! I wore the black
mask and hood, with the hood over my face. I was delighted
with how people reacted to me. And I'd take it off whenever
it was hard to read something specific. 

I got home around 230am, which isn't bad at all.

Tonight I got back at home at 400am. I didn't get the workout. Are you surprised?

I did get sunlight! I bicycled south along the service
road and laneways to my bank, where I deposited the
cheque from work. After that, I took myself to Staples
to check out the Brother QL-550 label making printer.
The Dymo equivalent is on sale this week for 139.00,
but I found it narrower, and have had more respect for
Brother brand products. The Brother QL-550 will
take rolls of thermal paper, or even the cherished ends
of the subway transfers I rescue from the trash here.

The cost? 199.99 for the printer, and 30.00 for each
box of continuous thermal labels.

Staples badly needs someone like me, but I'm not sure
how happy I'd be. They were uber busy. Not like Domin,
where I hold still at a cash register, dealing with the
long line of customers. Anrgy customers beg borrow and
steal sales people they need to kick tires (computers)
around. Staples sells paper, cameras, computers, office
supplies, office furniture, and sundries for all of these.
They sell PDAs, pens, candies and easels. 

They need knowledgeable staff, but only had a couple of
people who knew anything at all. They were worn ragged.

Pretty much next door is the Future Shop. This place
sells nearly the same things, but has a technological
store focus, rather than office supply focus. It was
too loud with music and sounds from movies. 

They had a device I was determined to play with: a 
DVD/CD evaluation terminal. Simply scan the barcode
of the movie/cd you wanted to hear. It would bring
up the movie trailer, or sample tracks. 

I tried about six DVDs with no luck, but eventually
I went to the section with old traditional movies
and it gave me a long original theatrical trailer
for "The Dirty Dozen". With Lee Marvin.

That was worth seeing. But their stupid music drowned
out most of the audio.

Future Shop has many more people working than Staples.
Three people asked if they could help me. One asked me
in an angry boss-like fashion. That will teach me for
peeking into the various "staff only" doorways. I wanted
to see how they do things. I did. 

After I got bored of doorways, I found the new Palm Tungsten
PDAs. They're on sale this week. But I'm actually happy enough
with the low-end models I use.

I went to the supermarket between Staples and Future Shop:
Loblaws. I read their flier, and figured that they didn't
have anything for sale. All of it seemed costly to me.

So I did a walk through, just to see what popped out at
me. One thing was 3.00 danish butter cookies. I'll get
a few boxes soon. They come in the metal cookie tins.
They're not decorated tins, but they're still satisfactory.
Then I was surprised to find PC (President's Choice) Pepsi
Lookalike was on sale. 12 can case for 99c. That's insane!
I got 4 of them, and hung them onto the handlebars and
walked it all back home. I felt like I'd found genuine

At length, I got back home with all of the stuff,
and put some of it away. 

For some reason I was unmotivated to leave the house. I stayed
here doing things that needed doing, and some things that
just wasted time. I played Mah Jonng, and got 20,000 points.
That's not a record, but it's nearly a record. I did well.

It took some help from Jeff to get me through the door.
It wasn't until I was at the subway collector's booth
I realized we were in a new month, and I'd have to
buy a new Metropass. I didn't have a hundred dollars
on me, so I went back home, and got it.

I called the store, and they were just happy to know I
was on my way. They're used to getting calls saying the
employee cannot come in at all. I guess that's a side 
effect of paying minimum wage.

The spirit at the store was amazing. Joyous to the bone.

Also a pace of work that didn't stop. But I had good
bosses who made sure we just took our breaks in rotation.
(nothing fancy, really. They give the first one their
break, and instruct them to ask whoever is still working
to take the next break when they get back).

The pace got lighter around 130am. So I did stock work
for the last hour, intermixed with occasional customers.

Late night food was hamburger with ramen. 

I finished that on the bus ride home, so I am no longer
hungering. I'll still have a nice apple soon. I love them
and they're in season.

Christine is calling the dance tomorrow, but she has a
cold and she may not be able to do the teaching.

I'll prepare something tonight.

That's all I know.