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Rowyn

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Three month retrospective: Part I [Aug. 20th, 2008|10:04 am]
Rowyn
I am long overdue for a blog post, and by now I have enough material for several. I'll start by backtracking to May.

The month began with my 23rd birthday.  At Friday Night Waltz that evening I didn't get an official birthday dance, but Bob roped a few people such as John and Tracey into giving me an informal birthday dance during one of the waltzes -- a nice surprise.

At KaBoomThe next week, Graham returned from Romania and I surprised him at the airport on my way to see KT Tunstall playing in San Francisco. The concert, which I saw with Alex, was lots of fun. KT is a talented singer and songwriter with a charming accent and good stage presence. She played two songs which I liked in waltz from her latest CD, "Beauty of Uncertainty" and "Paper Aeroplane." A week or two later, Graham and I joined Mummy, Esther, Steve, and Riley for another concert in San Francisco, KFOG's annual KaBoom! live concert with fireworks. It was the foggiest KaBoom I've ever been to (and this is around my tenth year going), but the fireworks were still a good show. Between KT and Kaboom, though, was Stanford's Big Dance, an annual all-night dance party. This year was my "triple crown" -- my third year staying the whole time. Lots of excellent dances over the course of the night with all my favourite dance partners.

While not out enjoying myself with music and dancing, I spent a lot of time at Nana's house. Her cancer returned last year, and she'd been on a steady decline since then. Esther took off her entire spring quarter to care for Nana, and Judy soon joined her when the task proved too much for one person. Nana passed away on May 22, over three years after she was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Her fight with the disease was both heartbreaking and inspiring. She was a woman of incredible strength, and remained astonishingly able both mentally and physically until near the end. Refusing to move to a full-time care facility, she stubbornly insisted on sleeping in her own bed and bedroom, even though it meant climbing the stairs every night, which she did until less than a week before she died. No surprise, I guess, coming from a woman who biked to work nearly every day until she retired at age 90.

Even though her deteriorating energy made extended conversation difficult, she continued to read and watch the news, keeping herself informed and educated as she'd done all her life. This made it particularly sad when her short-term memory started to go, necessitating gentle and patient repetition from everyone interacting with her. She always seemed so strong that it was hard to imagine her giving in to anything, but by the end her tumour was the size of my fist. She spent her last six days in bed, constantly attended by her children and grandchildren, on medicating for her pain. On Wednesday night, I visited, and Esther and I sang for her, and though she didn't open her eyes, I like to think she heard us. On Thursday, Esther called and told me they'd done the last rites. I'd originally been planning to attend Faster Polka that night, but had Graham drop me off at Nana's instead.

Nana in her twentiesI took over from my uncle in the seat at Nana's bedside, joined by my aunt Georgia. Nana's breathing was laboured and erratic, which was harrowing for everyone keeping vigil. Only ten minutes after I arrived, however, she took a breath and then didn't take another. The pause stretched out longer and longer, so we called everyone else to the room, realising it had probably been her last. Seconds later, my mother's car pulled into the driveway, and I ran down and told her she'd better come up right away. Nana's pulse beat just long enough for Mummy to say her last goodbye. Nana seemed so peaceful, and the room was quiet in the absence of her rattling breaths. She couldn't have asked for a better way to go -- in bed at home where she'd lived in for 50 years, surrounded by people who loved her -- and she lived one of the longest, fullest lives I've ever known. No one I've loved as much has died before, and I've never experienced dying and death so intimately. It was, and is, difficult and sad.
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April Fools' Day at Google [Apr. 1st, 2008|02:21 pm]
Rowyn
1. Gmail Custom Time: Be on time. Every time.

2. Wake-Up Kit: Wake yourself up.

3. "I'm Feeling Lucky" button for Calendar

4. Book Search - Scratch & Sniff: Search now smells better.

5. Adsense for Conversations: Puts the 'context' in contextual advertising

6. Virgle: Things will get better. Eventually.

7. File --> New Airplane in Google Docs

And my personal favourite:

8. G'Day: Search tomorrow's web, today! (be sure to check the FAQ page)


[Edit: Couple more]

9. Featured Videos on YouTube: You've been Rick Roll'd!

10. Google Weblogs: The next revolution in personal publishing

11. Google Talk Goes Green: Add en2im@bot.talk.google.com as a contact

12. AdWords FrankRank:  Rankings based on how well a particular ad goes with mashed potatoes and gravy
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Stanford Dance Weekend [Mar. 12th, 2008|02:53 pm]
Rowyn
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Just accidentally found out from edge_of_within's blog that registration is now open for the Stanford Dance Weekend, which is June 27-29.  I attended the waltz weekend and week last year and enjoyed it very much.  All of the teachers are excellent, and they often incorporate variations and techniques that aren't covered in Richard Powers' standard Social Dance classes.  If you like the idea of spending a whole weekend dancing at Stanford this summer,  you should consider going.  To the best of my knowledge, the Weekend has not yet been officially announced, but it does tend to fill up.
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Highlights of the week [Mar. 10th, 2008|11:19 am]
Rowyn
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Food: On Monday, Nana and Mummy joined me for lunch at Google. We ate at the Pure Ingredient Cafe, which is in my building and one of my favourites. Nana seemed to enjoy her sushi and grilled fish, and Mummy loved the peanut butter chocolate crème brûlée. On Saturday, I made and ate momos, which are a kind of Tibetan dumpling, for the first time. There's a special technique of pinching the dough to make nice-looking round dumplings like this one which I didn't quite master, but they were tasty anyway. On Sunday, Graham and I -- neither of whom really cook much -- successfully made a tofu and vegetable curry with help from Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce.

Dancing: Sadly missed Fasterpolka on Thursday, but did my best to make up for it on Friday. Notable dances include a fun hustle with John to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," an exhilarating polka with Eric to "Siamsa" from Lord of the Dance, a bronco schottishe with Bob, and a Zwiefacher with Jason.

Lots of good friend time with Graham, including Victor Borge, Mononoke Hime, and Shape Note. Got an unexpected face wash from an adorable bichon.  Biked to work for the first time in several months.  Saw Definitely, Maybe with my aunt, which was surprisingly good.
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Artist of the week [Feb. 26th, 2008|09:58 pm]
Rowyn
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Sara Bareilles

Age: 28

What's her deal?: Grew up in California (yay).  After graduating from college, she started singing in bars and clubs and worked her way up into larger venues.  Opened for other artists I like such as Mika and Paolo Nutini.  Esther introduced her to me shortly before she became more widely known for her hit single "Love Song."  I like her because she writes catchy songs, plays piano, and has a strong, unpretentious voice.

Songs I like: "Gravity" and "One Sweet Love"

Her website: http://www.sarabmusic.com/

FYI, her album is available as mp3 downloads on Amazon.
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Social Dance Music [Feb. 24th, 2008|09:54 pm]
Rowyn
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As some of you may know, I do a lot of social dancing, and over the last two years I've built up a respectable library of dance music.  Since this post just over a year ago, my collection has decupled (increased by a factor of ten).  Well, 11.5, actually.  Most of this is thanks to extensive sharing with Mike, Jason, and Graham.

Anyway, I spend a lot of time maintaining and updating this collection, so I started a little blog to share my dance music discoveries.  If you're interested, you can find it here.
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Disneyland [Feb. 7th, 2008|12:16 pm]
Rowyn
Good: Going to Disneyland for free courtesy of your company.

Better: Going to Disneyland for free in the middle of an off-season week.

Better: Going to Disneyland for free in the middle of an off-season week with good friends.

Best: Going to Disneyland for free with good friends when the park is specially reserved just for your company and there are no lines, spectacular fireworks, and free food.
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The Invisibles [Feb. 6th, 2008|10:34 pm]
Rowyn
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I need to write at least one music-related post, but I'm tired and lazy so instead here's a quotation:

"There's a true sense of mystery with magic.  Like you're having a meaningful dialogue with something bigger than you -- bigger than anything you can imagine.   It reaches into what we've all agreed are the workings of the world and stirs them around a little, makes a person sit up and pay attention.  Not simply to the experience itself, but to everything around them.  That's why the great stage illusions -- I don't care if it's a floating woman or someone walking through the Great Wall of China -- when they're done properly, you come away questioning everything.  your eyes are opened to all sorts of possibilities."

-from the story The Invisibles by Charles de Lint
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(no subject) [Jan. 26th, 2008|02:10 am]
Rowyn
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This week was long and stressful work-wise, but it shaped up towards the end thanks in part to lots of dancing.  Tonight my tired feet and I are going to sleep cozily and enjoy the rain being outside watering the earth and making a pleasant patter and filling up Lake Lagunita.
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Artist of the week [Jan. 17th, 2008|08:30 pm]
Rowyn
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Ingrid Michaelson

Age: 27

What's her deal?: Talented young singer/songwriter.  If you watch television, you may have heard the song "Keep Breathing" in the Grey's Anatomy Season 3 Finale, or her latest hit "The Way I Am" on Old Navy Commercials.  Apparently, after Grey's Anatomy ended, there was a big rush to find her song on MySpace and that's how she got famous.  I was introduced to "Keep Breathing" as a lovely waltz, and later liked  "The Way I Am" as well.  Her songs are melodious and catchy, her voice is pure, and her lyrics are often introspective.  I also like her because she comes across as unpretentious despite being so talented.

Upcoming show: next Wednesday, January 23 @ 7:30PM, at Slim's in SF

**I have an extra ticket for this (sold out) show because my mother can't go with me.  Anyone want to go?**

Her website
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