Saturday, September 12, 2015

iPhone Video Dump

I take lots of video of my dog, River, when we're on long road trips and then I don't do much else with them. Occasionally, I'll post a short video to Facebook, but other than that, I let them accumulate in my phone and watch them or show them to unsuspecting people at random times.

I probably would continue to store all of the videos in my phone, rarely seen by most of the world, if it weren't for the fact that I eventually run out of disc storage.

Yesterday, I got a message that I couldn't perform a simple function I was attempting because I had less than 500 MB of storage available on my phone.  So I deleted a bunch of useless things, but it only made a tiny dent. A more thorough investigation showed that the majority of space was being used up by two main things: my music library and my videos.

I need my music on my phone for my work, so I couldn't really do anything about that, but I was able to do something about the videos.  I decided to dump all of them into a movie editing app on my computer and create one long video of all of the clips I took during my travels this past year.

I added some titles and some music to help move it along during the slow parts, but otherwise it is pretty much just all of the video clips I took laid out end to end, forming a kind of loose narrative.

Then I deleted all the videos from my phone and it freed up about 6 GB!  Now I'm ready to shoot more videos!  In the meantime, please enjoy this slice of 2015 featuring River and me across the USA.

You may notice that when the video begins, I'm still driving Georgia, the brownish-green 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman. But shortly into it, I've switched to Babe the Blue Ox, a 2015 Mini Cooper 4-door Hardtop.

You may also notice that in the early part of the video, River and I have a 50 foot long red leash. I forgot to load it into the car after we stopped to play in a lake. I went back to the same spot the next day, but it wasn't there.  I replaced it with a green leash the next day. I wouldn't have chosen to get a long green leash because of how much time we spend on grass. The red leash was always easy to find against the grass. The green one, not so much.

There are a few moments in the video when I'm talking and I also have music playing that makes it really difficult to hear and understand me. That was intentional. Sometimes, when I was shooting, I would babble. Trust me, when there's anything even remotely worth hearing, I turn the music down.

Toward the end of the video, when we're in the Trinity Nat'l Forest in Junction City, California, I'm shooting on a cliff, looking down into a big river and I pan around to show the forest. I don't know if it's obvious, or if it looks like it's a foggy day, but it's actually a bright sunny day. What you're seeing is smoke from the nearby wildfires. Notice on the hill across the street from where I'm parked, you can see the ground and some of the blackened trees still smoldering.  There's also an eerie yellowish tint to that section of the video, but it's not a special effect; that hue was actually happening as the sunlight filtered through the smoke. It smelled like a giant campfire.

And what the heck... As long as I'm cleaning media off my hard drive, I might as well also post these random pictures here so I can delete them from my phone:
River on Columbus Ave; NYC

Medford, OR

Medford. OR

Stopping to switch seats.
Cottonwood, CA.
March 26 - River officially becomes a back seat driver

Waiting for class to start since we arrived an hour early.
Sandpoint West Athletic Club parking lot
Sandpoint, ID

Black Hills National Forest
Custer, South Dakota

Dickinson, North Dakota

Cenex Gas Station
Bismarck, North Dakota

Motel 6
Lakeville, MN

Motel 6 / Nashua, NH

Motel 6
Virginia Beach, VA

Highway Rest Area
Blacksburg, SC

Truck Parking Area
Crescent Valley, CA

Motel 6
Sparks, NV

Five Guys Parking Lot
Indian Hills, NV

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Stop Sharing Memes

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Facebook. Nearly every day I offer at least one thought that is running through my head. Sometimes it's a controversial thought that sparks heated debate and other times it's a question I have or a statement as simple as "I love sunshine."

But I'm noticing a disturbing trend in Facebook usage which I feel is usurping the aspect of this social media platform that I most appreciate and keep coming back for: human connection.

Some will say that online human connection is an oxymoron; that only "real life" interactions are valid, but I don't agree. They are both forms of connection with different energetics, but I don't think one is real and the other false. I have a connection to many people who I have never seen face-to-face, thanks to the sharing of ideas on Facebook.  And many people who I have met and don't see but once a year, can remain active in my life through social media interactions.

It is the sharing of ideas and arguing fine points that makes a human connection in my book. It can be done in person, over the phone, via pen pal correspondence and yes, in the social media realm.

So the thing that is disturbing to me and diminishing the value of my experience on Facebook is the sharing of other people's thoughts in the form of what we've come to know as 'memes'. Most of the time, they are attempting humor or biting satire.

Sometimes they come in the form of advice.

 And many times they seem to simply be a description of the person who posted it, or stating an opinion shared by the poster.
"So what's wrong with that?" you might ask me. 
My answer is that it is mostly insincere and impersonal, and in some cases, offensively pedagogic. I can easily trawl through the Internet myself and find prefabricated statements that I agree with. I don't need to see the ones that you've found. And I'm not suggesting that you don't believe the things that you're posting, or that I disagree with them either. But I'm suggesting that it is obvious to me that they aren't thoughts you actually had and I find that annoying and pretentious. You found the meme, read the thought and then clicked a button or two and suddenly it was shared with anyone and everyone you're connected with on Facebook. Great!  Now we all get to receive some unsolicited and impersonal advice that you didn't even come up with. 
Perhaps it doesn't even apply to me! 
Why are you sharing this? I imagine it is making the statement, "Look, I also believe this! I didn't say it, but I sure stood there and nodded my head vigorously.  Now you do it."

Rule of thumb: By the time a quotation makes it onto a meme next to a photograph or illustration, it is already a cliche.

I wonder if some people think that when a belief they share is written down by someone else and accompanied by a picture, that it will have more impact or be more meaningful or convincing to others. This isn't the case. I'm much more likely to be impressed by a thought that you have typed out then one you have found and clicked 'share' on.  I like to think my friends are more clever than resorting to recycling thoughts.

Please reconsider littering your Facebook feed with impersonal self-help slogans or sarcastic self-deprecating cliches. I have some friends that I've decided to block. I don't like to do this, and I take the decision very seriously.  I go onto Facebook so I can see what my friends are thinking and doing and to share the same about myself with them.  But some people seem to be making a full time effort out of sharing other people's thoughts to their own Facebook feed. 

Here's something to consider: if you have a point to make, make it yourself. If you want to express a belief, express it with your words, if you want to make a statement, type it! It doesn't carry any more credibility because someone else put the thought next to a picture of a beautiful sunrise. In fact, a large majority of the time, the originator of the meme posted it for commercial reasons. They intentionally choose a cliche populist thought so that lots of people will 'like', 'agree' and 'share'. Every time someone shares the picture, the poster's page gets more attention. So not only are you sharing didactic cliches, but you're putting advertising on my newsfeed.

Another facet of this practice is that it ensures that I get to see the same cliche shared a half dozen times. 

I'd rather see pictures of your new haircut, your kids' graduation or your trip to India. I'd rather hear about what you did last night than have to read YET ANOTHER picture postcard preaching to me.

I'd rather discuss things with you than have you pass something along to me to read that you spent about ten seconds on yourself and that I've already seen a dozen times before. There is little benefit in my mind to passing around tired cliches and passing them off as our sentiments. 
The solution??  Let me know what you're feeling, what you're doing and what you're planning to do. What are you excited about and what are you afraid of?  Type something personal in the status update box instead of just forwarding another Hallmark card. Post a picture of yourself, or one that you've taken, and accompany it with sharing a bit of what's on your mind. The next time you see a pretty picture with a 'deep' thought on it. Leave it sitting there and share your original thoughts about it in your own words.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

JAGs Birthday Bash

My 49th birthday is June 15, 2015. Forty-nine is a big year for me because it completes the seventh cycle of seven years.  Every seven years I undergo a major shift in personality and perspective.  It isn't usually an instantaneous thing, but something that happens over a several-year period. The most recent change could be felt beginning in February of 2014 during my First Degree Black Belt training and continued throughout most of the year. And I feel like I'm still adjusting to the new me; I can't wait to see what I become this time.

In the meantime, to celebrate this event, I'm inviting all of my Nia family to come and party with me. I have reserved the Century Ballroom on June 13 from noon to 4pm.

At noon I plan to teach my latest routine, Frankie Say Nia.  I have taught it plenty of times in Seattle, but that was before I took it on the road. When I take it around from place to place, I get a chance to refine and improve it at every stop, based on how the students respond to it. So it is now at a place that I feel very proud of, whereas when I had taught it in Seattle in the past, I was still feeling my way through it.

After that, at one pm, I want to play around with a song for inclusion into my 2016 routine. The working title of the routine is Community Network Synergy. The idea is that I am calling on the creative energy of my friends and colleagues to co-create all of the choreography this year. So far, I have worked with six different communities (Santa Monica, Santa Fe, Sedona, Kansas City, Dallas/Houston and Boise) and we have put together six songs. I'm halfway done with the routine. I want to include Seattle in the mix and I have chosen a song that I'd love to work with, but I'm also open to hearing other suggestions. I would like the song to be something that 'speaks to' the community or that represents the community in some way. It could be from a local artist, or a song about the city, etc. This is not a hard and fast rule, but simply a suggestion to help in coming up with song choices.

Then, when the song is chosen, what I'll do is share the method I use when I create choreography for my routines. But instead of using my creative energy, I want to use the creative energy of the teachers and students in attendance.  I will orchestrate it so that we use my method of creation, but I will be plugging in movement 'clicks' and inspirations entirely from my colleagues.

So far this has been an incredibly rewarding experience as I am inspired to use movements and songs I never would have thought of. I'm thrilled at how this routine is going to get me outside of myself and forge a new path for me in my creativity.

Here is the song I am considering for using in Seattle.  As I said, I'm open to other suggestions.

In my experience, it takes about 2 hours to fully realize the choreography to a song using the group method. And then, with the last hour, from 3 to 4 pm, I will teach a song or two from Frankie Say Nia so that the teachers in attendance will be able to teach them in their classes.

In the future, I may put together an entire playshop for learning the routine, but for now, this is the only means for learning the songs from me.

So what is the cost, you ask?  Nothing. It is my birthday, so it is my pleasure to present this to my community. I will be putting out the donation bowl in case anyone would like to contribute to the JAG & River Road Fund. Every little bit helps as we trek across the country. Staying in motels and filling up the gas tank every day can get a bit expensive.

So come and play with me on my birthday. Enjoy some Frankie Say Nia "80s New Wave" Nia and help to co-create next year's routine.

EVENT: 'Frankie Say Nia' routine and Choreography Creation Playshop

DATE:  Saturday, June 13

TIME: Noon - 4pm

LOCATION: Century Ballroom; 915 E Pine St.; Seattle WA

COST: FREE!  (donations gladly accepted)

WHO: Anyone is welcome; teachers, belts and students alike!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Western Road Trip through the eyes of Nia

I started this trip the next day after a Wisdom Comes Dancing playshop with Phillipe and Sabine.
It was a beautiful send-off to a long and eventful Nia adventure.

I taught my latest routine, Frankie Say Nia in 22 cities:
Forest Grove, OR
Eugene, OR
Nevada City, CA
Campbell, CA
San Diego, CA
Santa Monica, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Durango, CO
Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Austin, TX
San Antonio, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Houston, TX
Dallas, TX
Kansas City, MO
Lyons, CO
Boulder, CO
Boise, ID
Spokane, WA
Bellingham, WA

Eight of the engagements listed above were at places I had never been before. The rest were return engagements.

In addition to that, I taught my FreeDance Playshop three times and a Choreography Co-Creation playshop three times. In one city, I focused on teaching the local teachers my Rock & Roll Nia routine. In another city I participated in a teacher Jam and in another I battled it out with a fellow teacher, pitting my classic 80's songs against her 80's cover songs. Along the way, I took a few classes from other teachers as well, including a Move IT class taught by Mark Frossard.

This video was put together by a student in Forest Grove. 


Video posted on Facebook from my class in Albuquerque

Blog post about my visit to Campbell, including FreeDance Playshop and Frankie Say Nia routine.

After class in Phoenix, AZ

the "Tidal Wave" in Boulder, CO

After a FreeDance Playshop in Lyman, WY

Post Frankie Power in Albuquerque, NM

Post Nia Claw Hand Power in Durango, CO

Sweaty Personal Power in Nevada City, CA

80's Nia fashion poses in San Diego, CA

Teacher Jam in Houston, TX

Originals vs. Covers: Nia Duel in Dallas, TX

Frankie Say Nia at 6am in Houston, TX

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Memories of my Coffee Cup from the Road (spring 2015)

Every day I have a special moment with my coffee mug. It is fleeting but important. And every morning on this last road trip, I took a picture of my coffee mug and posted it to Facebook so that my friend could get an accurate idea of the size of it.  Usually once it was posted on Facebook, I'd delete it from my phone, but here is a collection of coffee mug photos that, for some reason or another, didn't get deleted.
Perhaps there is some special secret message in them, but I haven't found it yet. I'm posting them here in the hopes that one of my clever friends can decipher the meaning and let me know.
Spokane, WA

Thornton, CO

Thornton, CO

Salt Lake City, UT

Denver, CO

Lenexa, KS

Tempe, AZ

Addison, TX

Dallas, TX

Oklahoma City, OK

Addison, TX

Sedona, AZ

Campbell, CA

Medford, OR
Jacinto City, TX

Evanston, WY

Salt Lake City, UT

Spokane, WA
Seattle, WA