18 September 2008

Dancing and Metrics and Giggling

I was talking with a friend last night, and I was trying to explain why dance contests are important to me. I explained that to me, measurables are the only way to gauge how you are doing, and that as far as my experience goes the only measurable of how well you are dancing is contests. As I have said before, the judging process is fraught with issues, but it's all we got. Two business quality improvement ideas came up in the course of the conversation that made me giggle.

1. Getting feedback on dance contests. Go to the judges after the contest and ask them what I could do to improve my placing next time. Not a bad idea, although it lends itself to some very funny answers depending who the judge is, and how honest they are.

2. There is a second possible metric, and this one might be the one I should be using. A customer satisfaction survey of the people I dance with. Let's see how this one might go, at the end of the dance I would say "Thank you for dancing with me, if you could just minutes to fill this survey out and drop in the box on that table over there, it would be much appreciated. Don't worry, it's completely anonymous."

My friend seemed to think that idea number 2 is the better one for me. I agree. Although I want to improve my dancing, doing so in a manner that highlights the enjoyment of my partners fits very well into my personality ... much more so than a 'win at any price' attitude. I am also unsure if my style of dancing fits well into dance contests, so this kind of measurable might work really well.

Now to design the survey, put together a web site, and send it out.

It just makes me laugh.

16 September 2008

Carpe Diem ... aka The Anti-Rant

Saturday was a complete struggle for me, I ended up knowing I was just being so high maintenance that I stayed home, alone, and ignored calls coming in. I was in bed early, and must have worn myself out, at least emotionally, because I slept twelve hours. I woke up Sunday to more of the same self doubts and questionings. It was about 1015, and I started the usual Sunday negotiation with myself, when am I going to church? 1100? No, I gotta rush to get ready. 1230? No, I'll miss Lindy in the Park ... wait it's cold. Football is on today, can I go to church at 1700? I laid in bed for 20 minutes or so with every combination of church, dancing, and football I could come up with running through my head. Usually what ends up happening is no church at all, and with the bad attitude, that's where I was headed.

Then something happened the ring did not expect, it fell into the most unlikely hands imaginable, a hobbit, from the Shire, Bil... no wait that's a different story all together.

I made a decision to go to church now. I got up, got ready, and went. Church was good, I left thinking about how I can give up so easily on somethings, and then have such incredible patience with other things, perhaps there might be something in the middle? You think? I headed over to the gas station and filled up, got some Jimmy John's and headed home for a day of watching football.

Ben was home, and I talked to him for a bit then asked him if he was going to go to Lindy in the Park? When he said yes, I told him I was riding with him. We got downtown a little on the late side and parked on the far side of the lagoon. The first really fun thing happened. I walked down the ramps, been took a short cut over the grass ... we made brief eye contact, and the race was on. He shot down the grass and towards the lagoon crossing, I went as quick as I could around the rails and caught him near the turn at the corner of the lagoon ... we both won because neither of us got hurt.

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Check it out, people showed up in 60F weather to dance, it must be a great product!

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After years of avoiding dips like the plague, who has their feet up in the air like that?

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Dancing is a serious business, no shenanigans are allowed ... Catnip's face pretty much says it all.

At the end of Lindy in the Park, we were having some decision making issues of the "...I don't know, what do you want to do..." variety. So we appointed Sarah to be the leader for the rest of September. At the end of September, Sarah will appoint another leader, at the end of October, that leader will appoint someone new, but it can't be Sarah. Agreed! So after hearing some suggestions, Sarah decided we were headed over to Ted & Wally's for some ice cream. Side note to Ted & Wally's: feel free to mix in a few chips with your mint chip ice cream. While we were there, Ben busts out a deck of cards, and we sat and played four or five different games until it was obvious we were the only ones in the store.

"Let's go bowling." "How about darts." "Play games." "Play some pool." Do this, do that, how will we decide? Sarah? We lost Jillian & Mark, and ended up at a pool hall in Council Bluffs, it was different in three ways from every other pool hall I'd ever been to ... it was clean, no smoking, and no TV. Greg, it turns out is a very good pool player.

The next thing I remember is waking up on the cold floor with a bump on my head.

Ben thinks he can't get through to hit the 8-ball, he was right.

Lisa is modeling the very latest in attractive NFL t-shirts.

My wrist is not quite up to being able to handle this game yet.

After a couple hours of pool and foosball, we were done with that fun, so now what?

Go to Village Inn! Go to Harrahs! Go to Ameristar! Go home (who said that?)! Go get fast food! Do this, do that, how will we decide? Sarah? So it's off to the Ameristar Buffet, where evidently we all decided to take the words "All you can eat" as a command instead of a suggestion. I had three plates, mostly emptied, and dessert. I think the key to "all you can eat" is to make sure you get some "roughage", aka salad, so things actually, shall we say, move along?

As far as days in my life go, this one was near the top. Everything worked, dancing, games, food, conversation, jokes, fun, and most importantly friends. I continue to be so impressed, and humbled, by the people who surround me. I am so lucky. Lisa, Greg, Ben, Sarah, and Ben, thanks for a day to remember, I can't wait to seize the next one.

10 September 2008

Physics Rant

The Large Hadron Collider went on line today in Geneva, Switzerland. For those of you who don't pay attention to such things, the LHC is a particle accelerator capable of creating the environment that existed within the first microseconds of the creation of the universe. The energies involved with the collisions may be able create matter dense enough that it becomes a black hole. Yes, a black hole. On earth. Switzerland isn't far enough away.

I like science, I keep up on science, I understand that even if a black hole were created in the lab, it would be so small that, theoretically, it would evaporate before it could pull any other object into it. Objects like, oh, I don't know: The Earth. The people who are conducting the experiments are also the ones verifying it's safety, not exactly an impartial group. Of course I am being a bit of an alarmist, so you can check out this article from Science Daily about the safety of the experiments If The Large Hadron Collider Produced A Microscopic Black Hole, It Probably Wouldn't Matter. I'm sorry, does that say "probably"?

Frankly, I don't think the risks that are being taken are worth the possible scientific gain. These types of experiments should take place far away in space. Enough whining about what could go wrong, let's get to the real purpose of the LHC: To provide cushy, high paying jobs to physicists, but hey, at least they aren't out there creating weaponry.

In all likelihood when the machine begins to produce high energy collisions, everything will go according to plan, and we will all be just fine, but if it doesn't, and we are all dead, at least I will quit wondering how many starving people could be fed for a year with the $15 billion it cost to build the thing.

02 September 2008

Somehow, I've turned into *THAT* person

I had an interesting moment of self discovery last week. I am *THAT* guy. You know, the one with the camera, the paparazzi that you know. Always annoying everyone in sight, and with the zoom feature, some who are not quite in sight. I took 155 pictures this weekend, well more like 225, just 155 I thought were in focus and worth keeping.

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People magazine offered me $1,000,000 for an exclusive picture of swing dancers.

So I guess that I am chronicling the lives of my friends ... some day when they are rich and famous, the world will appreciate my hard work behind the camera.