Friday, December 18, 2009

More Circus Videos!

Because I have them. It's unedited, and somewhat poor-quality by virtue of "I wanted it to actually load in Blogger".

The first part is a trick I just learned which is terrifying but fun and cool-looking. I balk twice because (1) it takes a lot of strength to pop up like that, and it's at the end of practice, and (2) it's scary! The only good thing I will say is that I keep my toes pointed and my legs straight and my feet together (mostly). Also I can totally remember when tossing the fabric over my knee to wrap the first trick was prohibitively difficult (I'm sort of a klutz, don't tell anyone). So that's happy! But as usual I get tangled in the fabric at the end, because that is just how I roll. I need to learn how to do it without getting the fabric caught on my foot, and I need to build the strength and courage to do it without balking, but it's pretty neat-looking. Interestingly enough, there's another wrap that does similar drops in the reverse order: first the front somersault-ish thing and then the sideways flip (although there isn't a pause between them...). In any case, you could do that into this one as well, which would be wonderfully palindromic, so I might try that out in January.

The second part is a short sequence I put together because I thought everyone was putting together sequences which we would share. Turns out I was wrong, and I was the only one with a sequence. So no sharing, but I got my coach to take a little video of the sequence. It's even more right at the end of practice than the last one, so I'm even more exhausted, which is my only excuse for not being able to climb the fabric smoothly. Also the second-ish move (where I drop to hanging by one knee) gave me rope-burn, because my leggings didn't come down far enough or something. As above, the one good thing I have to say is I have decent form, although I still cringe watching myself getting tangled in the fabric at the end (that's why I laugh, because I'm thinking "oh goodness, she's still filming. How awkward," and I don't know how to make resting look graceful. Yes, those awkward hand-sweeps are my attempt at being all "Oh I am totally not resting, of course not!" I know, I know, it would have been better to, er, keep my hands to myself. I think what all this means is that I'm getting pretty decent at tricks, but I still think like a diver -- I'm approaching this without caring about transitions, beginnings, or endings (you're not being judged on how you get onto the board or out of the pool, after all). Which means that I have one physical thing and one mental thing to work on -- flexibility and transitions, respectively.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Steampunk? Steampunk.

Seven months ago, I met some friendly looking steampunks at maker faire, who happily handed me a card with an e-mail address on them, and ever since I have been bemoaning the fact that I lacked one crucial piece of paraphernalia. Yes, it's true, I didn't have a single pair of air-ship-suitable goggles.

And, because I am stubborn and foolish, my response was not, say, to buy and modify a pair of welding goggles or swim goggles or some other form of goggles, but to scrounge around and ponder for a while and finally decide to make something passable out of a piece of leather I bought in high school and the lenses from a pair of cheap Harry Potter costume glasses. I had to add a bit of wire I had lying around, two brass purse buckles (for fasteners) and a toilet paper roll (to support the eye sockets), but my apprentice goggles are finally done. I'm reasonably happy with how they turned out, although I already know several things I should have done differently. I have been utterly incapable of getting a good picture with them on my face, (due in part to a couple of the things I should have done differently) so these two of them on a table will have to suffice.

I'm thinking lose or re-attach the nose bridge because it's lopsided and it makes the entire thing look even more lopsided than it has to be. That should be a reasonably quick fix and it should help quite a bit. Next step would be adding an LED flashlight, and possibly jeweler's loupes. Although I'm not positive where to put them so those plans are still on the drawing board.

The next project is the big one: Corset. (Dun dun dunnn)... I'm somewhat more confident on this one for several reasons: first, I'll have a pattern; second, I've already made a few boned bodices, and the step up, while a difference in magnitude, is not one of substance; third, I'll have a pattern; fourth, it will not involve leather; and finally, I'll have a pattern. Did I mention I'll have a pattern? Because that's pretty important. I'm about up to drafting patterns for dresses (and I did the goggles free-form, which is why they came out lopsided), and I'm 99% confident I'll have to alter the corset pattern, but I must admit that I'd really rather not have a lopsided corset, which sounds like just about the most uncomfortable thing on the face of the planet. (Ouch.) I'm trying to decide whether or not to (photo-)document my progress re:Corset. I'll probably end up not doing it because I am a lazy bum and after painstakingly writing down everything I do at work, I don't know if I could handle bringing that amount of rigor to my "for fun" projects as well. Also because I don't think anyone much cares.

Along the way, I think a pair of spats are up (I still have all this leather), possibly followed by gloves (if I still still have all this leather), and/or a petticoat. But those are all relatively quick projects.

Tomorrow: Circus, or Science. I promise.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How I have been wasting my time

To celebrate its 350th birthday, the British Royal Society put 60-odd papers online. I've been reading through them, as a method of procrastination which is hard to tell from my 'real work' of reading a slightly different set of papers. There are some real gems there; I particularly like the early medical papers on dogs, and the one about the effects of standing in a furnace on body temperature (read: homeostasis ftw!). But possibly the coolest thing about it is you can see the modern scientific format being born: those early papers read more like letters between friends than prestigious scientific publications, (Ben Franklin's 'I've heard you've been talking about these lightning rod things. Here's a cool experiment I did with a kite' is especially nice in that light) but slowly they become more rigorous and formalized. On the other hand, I still haven't gotten through the Bayes paper, if only because it is mathematics and hence much more formalized and technical. Oh, and it's fifty pages long.

They provide background info and commentary, too, and generally it's review articles that are reasonably accessible to a lay audience I think.