bjarvis: (Default)
We de-winterized our trailer this weekend. Or rather, I did: Kent couldn't spare the time away from work after taking so much vacation time already this month, and Michael is scoping out Belize for possible future tours. Since we had the supplies from the trailer which were needed to de-winterize it, one of my household had to get there in order to allow our co-trailer trash, Jerry & David, to go there later in the spring. So here I am.

I left home about 6am Friday morning and drove like hell to get here with as little delay as possible. Around 11:30am, I pulled into the campground, unloaded our supplies & personal items, hooked up the trailer's electricity and propane, then activated our wifi so I could connect to the office. There was still the plumbing to work on, but that could wait.

It's trailer opening weekend! Our de-winterizing process is down to a science, and then the rest of the weekend is mine!


In the early evening, after a productive day at the office, I was able to install the anode for the water heater, install the water filter, connect the water, flush the lines, then fill & start the water heater. All worked precisely as it should on the first attempt: no leaks, no line breaks, no issues. And in 15 minutes, I had plenty of hot water.

Friday was cool, especially after dusk, but the furnace was able to warm up the trailer quickly and a small electric heater was all that was needed to keep it comfortable. (The furnace gulps propane rapidly and is quite loud so the nearly silent electric heat is much preferred.)

From Friday night onwards, it has been relaxation. Yes, I logged into the office to tackle some things I either neglected from last week or to prepare for some major tasks this coming week. Still, I napped, I got some sun, I enjoyed the hottub, I went for walks, I listened to some audio books, I had some drinks down at the rec hall, and I napped some more.

The campground itself is sparsely populated this weekend. There's only one other trailer on Rose Hill open currently, and only a few in other areas of the campground; there were no more than six visitors staying in cabins. I think there may have been two dozen guys here all weekend long. Needless to say, there was no booming disco music or brightly lit sites so the sky watching was perfect so long as the clouds stayed away.

We usually try to stay a full week at Roseland for the week of Labour Day, but that's not possible this year: we'll be in England instead. We were also hoping to add the Memorial Day week to the calendar, but we've just learned we're going to be babysitting granddaughter Elodie for ten days immediately after Memorial Day so that's out. There might be another window at some point, but we have too much already on the calendar for the next couple of months.

I am happily relaxed. I need to hang onto that as much as possible in coming weeks.
bjarvis: (Default)
Today, Kent and I returned from four days in Norfolk, VA, for the annual CALLERLAB convention. Best sleep I've had in weeks.

I moderated a panel discussion on social media, and was a panelist for a discussion on identity theft (but essentially had the floor to myself). Ultimately, those were actually the only sessions I attended: I simply had no interest in any of the other panels over two full days of presentations either because it was outside of my interest, or because I've seen the topic ad nauseum in prior years. I'm mercifully not on any of the standing committees.

If I hadn't been a presenter, I would have blown off that entire conference in favour of catching up on sleep, work and personal projects, all which have been deferred over the past month because of outside commitments.

The conference itself is worthwhile for most square dance callers and I'd definitely encourage new callers to attend, but I'm finding myself overstretched March-April every year, just like I do November-December. I've been whittling back my outside commitments but I clearly need to cut more from my schedule to make room for myself.

Events still upcoming:
- trailer dewinterizing weekend;
- Independence Squares' fly-in weekend;
- John Marshall C2 weekend;
- MidAtlantic Challenage Association weekend;
- Pass the Ocean, Hon! weekend.

Next year, most of these will be re-evaluated. I'm largely attending the IS weekend out of a sense of obligation, habit and to demonstrate local support: I haven't actually danced more than 1-2 tips in total over the past three years. I like John's C2 weekend, but only if I can get enough rest before, during & after. I'm not sure I want to run for MACA VP again when the position comes up: the toughest part of the VP job is coordinating the spring festival which is traditionally scheduled for a time when I am least able to spare time to do it. And PTOH is in the same boat as IS: I attend out of obligation & habit, but almost never dance. I support the local club --I am still one of their club callers-- but the weekend is incredibly draining.

The only options at this point is to continue trimming events to rebalance my time & energy, as well as shedding some titles, positions and volunteer roles. Obligations are set for 2016, but 2017 is now on notice.
bjarvis: (Default)
God, the past two weeks...

My team at the office is still effectively down to 50% of its normal headcount thanks to departures and a family emergency of my manager. He's doing what he can remotely, but he's had bigger things to worry about than office stuff so we're all doing double-time and I've been stepping into the management role.

While we've had no major crises, I've been busy every hour of every business day with (a) my own project list as the sole engineer for the production data center, (b) various team projects we have in already in progress, (c) company projects such as our annual payment card audit and (d) misc issues as they come up in our production & non-production environments. Being nibbled by ducks is a good comparison: not life-threatening, but annoying/frustrating in a thousand little ways.

At least my part of the performance evaluations are completed and submitted. I still need to do my list of goals for 2013, but I need some information about the enterprise and operations goals first so I can align my wishlist with the official program.

In the interim, I still have my regular square dance calling gigs and personal appointments. We were supposed to de-winterize the trailer last weekend but we decided all of us had too many work commitments to spare time away from the office; we'll try again March 29-31. I've also cancelled some discretionary appointments and projects to make room for work hours.

This weekend & early next week, we're going to North Carolina for the annual CALLERLAB convention, a conference of square dance callers. The timing isn't great work-wise, but I'm ready for the escape. I'm not getting away scott-free, however: I'm a panelist moderator for an hour session on marketing dancing using social media with Kris Jensen, and I'm representing the GCA at the inter-organizational roundtable meeting and the business meeting. And I'll be reporting back to the GCA in July with the stuff we cover at this conference.

As I type this, I've packed my suitcase. I still need to pack my personal items into my backpack (camera, tripod, laptop, tablet, etc.), but that takes only 30 minutes in the morning. I also want to make copies of the GCA's "The Call Sheet" journal and registration forms for the GCA's caller school to offer on the promo table. I also need to ship two hard drives back to our New Jersey office tomorrow morning before I depart.

I really need a lot of sleep right now, but I'm doing better than I feared.
bjarvis: (Default)
I've been participating in a CALLERLAB project this month. Every year, CALLERLAB has been hosting a large conference of square dance callers, and most of the regular sessions (as opposed to committee meetings) have been recorded. In recent years, the recordings have been distributed on CD, but earlier years are on cassette tapes. We're now digitizing the cassettes into MP3 files for archiving and distribution.

I'm using an old cassette Walkman to play back each side of thirty-one 45 minute cassettes from the 1998 convention. The analog audio is piped into the sound card of a desktop workstation running WindowsXP and Audacity, sampling the data at 32,000 Hz. Last night, I finished digitizing the audio. The raw data on this first pass has chewed up 20GB of hard drive space.

Each side of each cassette was recorded into a single file. Today, I'm stitching the A & B data files into a single file, editing out the producer's comment "This is the end of side A. Please flip the tape over, rewind it and press play to hear the B side" and taking out any button click noise, then saving the resulting combo file, typically 600MB in size.

Once I have a single Audacity project file for each cassette, I convert the data into an MP3, typically about 70MB in size.

I'm keeping all of the intermediate files along the way so that if I find I've made a catastrophic mistake, I can pick up from part way through the pipeline instead of starting from scratch. And needless to say, I'm making a full backup of everything to an external drive every few hours, just in case I accidentally overwrite or corrupt any of my intermediate steps.

In all, I have 56GB of disk space tied up in this project right now. This isn't enormous, but it's enough that this work would have impractical if not impossible only a few years ago. A faster workstation with more RAM would have helped some of the editing and MP3 conversions but I was mostly constrained by the speed of the analog cassette playback anyway.

Now to package up the MP3 files and send them back to the home office...
bjarvis: (Default)
I had only two square dance calling gigs this week: Monday's mainstream class with the DC Lambda Squares (only three more to go!) and tonight's mainstream class with the Chesapeake Squares (fourth week out of about 20).

Both are going incredibly well. The Monday class is ramping up for a big finish as we have only another nine calls or so left on the list. Everything they've been shown thus far has been snapped up and internalized very quickly: it's been a long time since I've seen a class 'get it' so fast.

The Thursday class is slower getting off the ground, largely because we keep getting new people joining each Thursday. I and the Chesapeake Squares' board agree that we aren't so swamped with people clambering to square dance that we can afford to turn away anyone. Here we are in week #4 however and we're barely past my usual open house material.

That said, I'm getting really good with open house/party nights. Such events used to frighten the bewjesus out of me: a good party night is hard, and there's the omnipresent pressure that you're the dancers' first entrée into square dancing. If you blow it after the club has done all that marketing, you'll probably not get them back, ever. An open house has to rock from the first moment to the last, and you want everyone to leave excited about the next one.

I had an English teacher in high school who told me, "Any idiot can write a novel. Writing a short story, now that's hard." Open houses are the square dance equivalent of short stories: you have to hook the novice participants with a very small working vocabulary and keep them entertained from the first word to the last with no room for asides, trivia or false leads.

Having done such weekly for nearly a month now, however, I've found my mojo for this. Tonight, I pushed further and more creatively than I have previously with very simple calls, using circles, stars and simple formations to easily build more complicated ones and still resolve them cleanly & with good body flow. Repetition helps newbies, but too much gets boring: I think I've handled the past few dances with a good balance.

I like teaching a great deal. I think I demonstrate good energy & enthusiasm, I like the challenge of describing a move multiple different ways on the fly to suit the needs of the moment, I try to be as clear as possible and, thanks to experience, I have a much better feel for times when I can simply talk people through a new call and when I should use other means such as a demo of the move with an assistant or a prop. Workshops are especially fun since the floor already knows the basic calls & vocabulary: it gives us all the space to explore nuances of the definitions or explore non-standard applications. It all takes more prep work than just a regular club night, but I love that part too: evil plots don't just hatch themselves, ya know.

The Chesapeake Squares class was initially to wrap up around xmas, but we may extend it into January if there is a need. I'm delighted the club's board is being so flexible: I'm sure it will pay dividends in an increased membership. The club's good health is definitely in my best interest as one of their staff callers.

The next two weeks are gonna be a doozy: I'm calling four nights next week and three the following, everything from class-level Mainstream (which itself varies depending on the class in question) up to C2. I hope to get a jump on some choreo writing projects this weekend.

DCLS' Harvest Festival Hoedown comes up in three weeks. I have flyers going up to New York for their 'Peel the Pumpkin' event this weekend, as well as flyers for our ACDC and GCA caller school events. I'm still trying to get the GCA webmaster to update the online registration form to cover the master class; I'll telephone him again before this week is out. I also need to write a more detailed article about the caller school and master class for the next GCA newsletter.

In other news, I'm working on a minor project for CALLERLAB: digitizing cassette tapes of recordings from previous conventions. Currently, I have the 31 cassettes of the 1998 CALLERLAB convention. An old walkman is playing them into the 'audio in' port of the workstation beside me, Audacity digitizing the lot onto the hard drive.

This weekend, I'll do some editing to splice files of the A side and B side of the cassettes into a single MP3 and try to normalize the recording levels. With a little luck, I should be able to ship the lot back to the home office early next week --at which time they'll likely send me a new batch. :-)

And that, more or less, is the state of my square dancing life. Not much dancing, plenty of administrivia and enormous amounts of calling. After the DCLS class wraps up in three weeks, I'll get back to more dancing again.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
[livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I got our ballots for eight open positions on the Board of Governors of CALLERLAB in today's mail.

Five were easy picks but selecting the three additional governors took some effort. I seriously considered just voting for the five but ultimately decided on the extra three. I'll mail back our ballots tomorrow.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
[livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I got our ballots for eight open positions on the Board of Governors of CALLERLAB in today's mail.

Five were easy picks but selecting the three additional governors took some effort. I seriously considered just voting for the five but ultimately decided on the extra three. I'll mail back our ballots tomorrow.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
There were three motions approved by the attending membership at the CALLERLAB convention last March in Los Angeles. These relaxed the caller dress code, gave the exec committee the responsibility of assigning maintenance of the formation pictograms & charts and retiring the glossary doc to the historical archives.

Since not everyone can travel to the conventions to vote, there is a secondary process: the approved motions stand unless they are overturned by a subsequent mail-in ballot. All members, attending or not, get a mail-in ballot; 1/3 of the ballots must be returned and the two-thirds of the returned ballots must vote to rescind the motions, otherwise they stand as is.

The latest CALLERLAB newsletter says the required ballot quorum of 1/3 of the ballots wasn't reached; only 268 of the required 295 were submitted. The original three approved motions stand as is.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
There were three motions approved by the attending membership at the CALLERLAB convention last March in Los Angeles. These relaxed the caller dress code, gave the exec committee the responsibility of assigning maintenance of the formation pictograms & charts and retiring the glossary doc to the historical archives.

Since not everyone can travel to the conventions to vote, there is a secondary process: the approved motions stand unless they are overturned by a subsequent mail-in ballot. All members, attending or not, get a mail-in ballot; 1/3 of the ballots must be returned and the two-thirds of the returned ballots must vote to rescind the motions, otherwise they stand as is.

The latest CALLERLAB newsletter says the required ballot quorum of 1/3 of the ballots wasn't reached; only 268 of the required 295 were submitted. The original three approved motions stand as is.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
There were two more sessions of at the CALLERLAB mini-convention in London, Ontario.

The first of Tuesday was a choice between "Winning Ways" and "Showmanship." I opted for the latter with Tim Marriner and John Marshall. In a nutshell, it was a session on managing one's public appearance & perception and being professional before, during and after the dance. There was also ideas on how to establish a stage presence, handle surprises and deal with issues with grace. As with some other sessions, it's stuff I've heard before at one caller school or another, but the reminders were useful and the war stories were a hoot.

The final session was a general closing session. Thanks were offered to the volunteers, organizers and staffers; the floor was then opened to general discussion on any topic desired. There were lively and forceful comments in support of competitive square dancing and raising the profile of square dancing via the media. I was tempted to declare my own opinion that any public profile made showcasing the dated drag outfits of some 1950s fantasy world would utterly undermine any attempt at recruitment; I suspected, however, that this wasn't the time or place, choosing to bite my tongue.

When the conference wrapped up at noon, I gathered my papers, packed my backpack and headed to Drumbo to spend some time with my maternal grandmother.

As expected, she's doing well. We caught up on family gossip then went out for a short drive to visit with a handful of other relatives in the general community. One cousin's lawn maintenance business seems to be doing well; an uncle's back surgery seems to have been successful but it's too soon to tell definitively; another uncle is building a new house, etc, etc.

Towards 6 PM, I headed back to London and drive directly to the home of [livejournal.com profile] bearfinch in the north end of the city. For the first time this trip, I was able to dine at Swiss Chalet! Woo hoo! OK, it's not that big a deal really, but I like Swiss Chalet and it's a small indulgence when I get a chance.

When I strolled into the lobby of my hotel later in the evening, I was surprised to find the same motley crew of CALLERLAB attendees playing board games in the lounge. Had I not been already thoroughly exhausted and facing a 6 AM alarm clock, I would have happily joined them. Sleep beckoned, however, and I could not resist its siren song.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
There were two more sessions of at the CALLERLAB mini-convention in London, Ontario.

The first of Tuesday was a choice between "Winning Ways" and "Showmanship." I opted for the latter with Tim Marriner and John Marshall. In a nutshell, it was a session on managing one's public appearance & perception and being professional before, during and after the dance. There was also ideas on how to establish a stage presence, handle surprises and deal with issues with grace. As with some other sessions, it's stuff I've heard before at one caller school or another, but the reminders were useful and the war stories were a hoot.

The final session was a general closing session. Thanks were offered to the volunteers, organizers and staffers; the floor was then opened to general discussion on any topic desired. There were lively and forceful comments in support of competitive square dancing and raising the profile of square dancing via the media. I was tempted to declare my own opinion that any public profile made showcasing the dated drag outfits of some 1950s fantasy world would utterly undermine any attempt at recruitment; I suspected, however, that this wasn't the time or place, choosing to bite my tongue.

When the conference wrapped up at noon, I gathered my papers, packed my backpack and headed to Drumbo to spend some time with my maternal grandmother.

As expected, she's doing well. We caught up on family gossip then went out for a short drive to visit with a handful of other relatives in the general community. One cousin's lawn maintenance business seems to be doing well; an uncle's back surgery seems to have been successful but it's too soon to tell definitively; another uncle is building a new house, etc, etc.

Towards 6 PM, I headed back to London and drive directly to the home of [livejournal.com profile] bearfinch in the north end of the city. For the first time this trip, I was able to dine at Swiss Chalet! Woo hoo! OK, it's not that big a deal really, but I like Swiss Chalet and it's a small indulgence when I get a chance.

When I strolled into the lobby of my hotel later in the evening, I was surprised to find the same motley crew of CALLERLAB attendees playing board games in the lounge. Had I not been already thoroughly exhausted and facing a 6 AM alarm clock, I would have happily joined them. Sleep beckoned, however, and I could not resist its siren song.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
I slept but not very restfully. This isn't too surprising as I seldom sleep well the first night in a new bed. Compounding my normal morning annoyance, my alarm clock didn't go off because I had mis-set it and was consequently late to the first morning session.

There were two tracks running 75 minutes each simultaneously, two per morning and two per afternoon. Many were similar to sessions I had attended at the CALLERLAB convention in Los Angeles last March so I was able to chose which sessions to attend more easily than first-time attendees.

The first session I attended was an "Introduction to Voice" with Donna Flynn. I like her: she's one of the few vocal coaches I've heard who didn't go all metaphysical and artsy-fartsy when talking about one's voice and vocal chords. Her recommended exercises for warming up and vocal practice were direct and very useful; her recommendations for hydration & nutrition less so... not having sugar drinks or caffeine three days before a performance is not exactly practical for those of us who may be on a mic 4-5 times per week. As one other attendee restated the rules, if it tastes good or has flavour, you can't have it. Ever. Still, she gets the difference between what square dance callers do and what professional singers do and recommended that some folks may actually need a public speaking coach more than they need a singing coach.

For the second morning session, I attended "Steal a Peak" with Tim Marriner, Bill Harrison and John Marshall. Each caller presented a handful of favoured musical selections from their library, explaining how they used it and analyzing its appeal. Some of it was new to me while others were very familiar.

Per usual, the topic of music to attract younger dancers came up. Examples of such were offered but they were "Funky Town" and ABBA's "Super Trouper." Sure, they're good examples, but do they know they're pulling up examples of hip music for youngsters which are nearly 30 years old? Just when I was working up the nerve to ask for a piece of music which wasn't already older than the supposed target audience, Tim Marriner pulled out "Born to Hand Jive," a fun, driving piece. Bullet dodged. :-)

A light lunch of delicious sandwich wraps and soup was made available before the next sessions. I tried to catch up on email/drama back in DC and was thus a few minutes late for the "Teaching Methods and Making Learning Fun" forum with Norm Wilcox and Betsy Gotta. Much of this material I had already heard in Los Angeles back in March but it was good to have it reinforced.

By the mid-afternoon, I was running out of steam. I had a choice between the partners session and the digital music session. I chose option three: go for a nap before my head could hit the table.

The evening's banquet was fun. I sat a table with Clark Baker, Bill Ackerman, Osamu Miyabe, Chris Homer and Louis & Nancy Friedlander; conversations about the Friedlander's work on the upcoming national square dance convention in Detroit and my work with the IAGSDC convention abounded, among other bits of smalltalk.

The food itself was excellent: caesar salad, stuffed chicken breast, potatoes and carrots. I might never leave.

We had a series of square dance tips after dinner on the small dance floor, regularly assembling three squares per tip. The planned events of the evening wrapped up with Clark Baker's hexagon squares; I'm glad to have had some experience from ACDC 2007 with Clark on this, but he extended it further than I had seen previously, into diamonds, spin chain & exchange the gears and more. Much fun!
bjarvis: (callerlab)
I slept but not very restfully. This isn't too surprising as I seldom sleep well the first night in a new bed. Compounding my normal morning annoyance, my alarm clock didn't go off because I had mis-set it and was consequently late to the first morning session.

There were two tracks running 75 minutes each simultaneously, two per morning and two per afternoon. Many were similar to sessions I had attended at the CALLERLAB convention in Los Angeles last March so I was able to chose which sessions to attend more easily than first-time attendees.

The first session I attended was an "Introduction to Voice" with Donna Flynn. I like her: she's one of the few vocal coaches I've heard who didn't go all metaphysical and artsy-fartsy when talking about one's voice and vocal chords. Her recommended exercises for warming up and vocal practice were direct and very useful; her recommendations for hydration & nutrition less so... not having sugar drinks or caffeine three days before a performance is not exactly practical for those of us who may be on a mic 4-5 times per week. As one other attendee restated the rules, if it tastes good or has flavour, you can't have it. Ever. Still, she gets the difference between what square dance callers do and what professional singers do and recommended that some folks may actually need a public speaking coach more than they need a singing coach.

For the second morning session, I attended "Steal a Peak" with Tim Marriner, Bill Harrison and John Marshall. Each caller presented a handful of favoured musical selections from their library, explaining how they used it and analyzing its appeal. Some of it was new to me while others were very familiar.

Per usual, the topic of music to attract younger dancers came up. Examples of such were offered but they were "Funky Town" and ABBA's "Super Trouper." Sure, they're good examples, but do they know they're pulling up examples of hip music for youngsters which are nearly 30 years old? Just when I was working up the nerve to ask for a piece of music which wasn't already older than the supposed target audience, Tim Marriner pulled out "Born to Hand Jive," a fun, driving piece. Bullet dodged. :-)

A light lunch of delicious sandwich wraps and soup was made available before the next sessions. I tried to catch up on email/drama back in DC and was thus a few minutes late for the "Teaching Methods and Making Learning Fun" forum with Norm Wilcox and Betsy Gotta. Much of this material I had already heard in Los Angeles back in March but it was good to have it reinforced.

By the mid-afternoon, I was running out of steam. I had a choice between the partners session and the digital music session. I chose option three: go for a nap before my head could hit the table.

The evening's banquet was fun. I sat a table with Clark Baker, Bill Ackerman, Osamu Miyabe, Chris Homer and Louis & Nancy Friedlander; conversations about the Friedlander's work on the upcoming national square dance convention in Detroit and my work with the IAGSDC convention abounded, among other bits of smalltalk.

The food itself was excellent: caesar salad, stuffed chicken breast, potatoes and carrots. I might never leave.

We had a series of square dance tips after dinner on the small dance floor, regularly assembling three squares per tip. The planned events of the evening wrapped up with Clark Baker's hexagon squares; I'm glad to have had some experience from ACDC 2007 with Clark on this, but he extended it further than I had seen previously, into diamonds, spin chain & exchange the gears and more. Much fun!
bjarvis: (Toronto city hall)
I was up relatively early. I haven't been sleeping well but no particular good reason. I suppose the small excitement of being back in Canada and seeing good friends again is a factor, but I would have thought being so exhausted would naturally lead to sleep. Not so.

If I couldn't sleep then I could at least do laundry. It's not exactly the same, but it needed to be done and I had some time to catch up on e-mail while the appliances were at work.

With my laundry done and myself through the shower, I said good-bye to my hosts, packed the car and headed west.

Traffic was light leaving Toronto: I had missed the worst of rush hour and since I was heading west, I was going against the bulk of the commuter flow anyway.

My first stop was in Cambridge to visit Sean & Bonnie and family. Sean and I went to high school together some 20+ years ago and was one of my best friends from that era long ago. Their daughter Kelsey just celebrated her 16th birthday; Graeme is 14 (I think). The last time I saw them, Graeme was just starting elementary school.


The kids and two of their friends wanted to go water skiing that afternoon so I joined Sean and the kids in the boat. Sean and I were able to catch up between the kids' wipeouts. I might have tried it myself but I really wasn't dressed or prepped for the adventure. I would have just embarrassed my ancestors, anyway.

Towards 4 PM, I hopped said my good-byes once again and drove the rest of the way to London for the mini-CALLERLAB convention.

The convention was being held at the Best Western Stoneridge Inn & Convention Center, a name almost larger than the building itself. Not that I have any complaints about the hotel itself: it was small but had all of the desired amenities, comfortable workspaces, nice rooms and a pretty good restaurant. I was in room 217, which seemed almost wasteful: I had an enormous king-sized bed in the most spacious room I've ever had in a hotel short of a suite. The only problem with my room is that the chair at the work desk was less than ideal but that's hardly a flaw on an otherwise perfect stay.

[livejournal.com profile] canseefour was handling the registration check-in. She's a natural for that task as I suspect she knows every square dancer in North America and a huge percentage of the rest of the planet. I was also happy to unload the rest of the Zip Coder magazines & subscription forms I was carrying at a table of brochures & pamphlets. [livejournal.com profile] canseefour even offered to take any leftover magazines & forms to the dancer convention later in the week.

Since I hadn't yet found time for dinner, I indulged in a sizable plate of chicken alfredo at the hotel restaurant before dashing off to the opening session of the convention.

The opening comments and information by Barry Clasper and John Marshall were cogent and brief --as they should be. The other guest panelists Bill Harrison and Dana Schirmer along with co-organizer Tim Crawford added some extra info about the value and services of CALLERLAB for the benefit of those not yet members, and I suppose a useful reminder to folks who were longtime members.

The conference itself was an intimate affair: we had about 30 registrants plus a few spouses. I knew nearly everyone by reputation if I hadn't already known them from prior dance or caller events.

Following the opening remarks, there was a schmoozing session at the bar. I chatted up a few people --including Dana, to get information about music licensing for the 2009 IAGSDC convention-- but creeping fatigue whisked me away to my room by 11 PM.
bjarvis: (Toronto city hall)
I was up relatively early. I haven't been sleeping well but no particular good reason. I suppose the small excitement of being back in Canada and seeing good friends again is a factor, but I would have thought being so exhausted would naturally lead to sleep. Not so.

If I couldn't sleep then I could at least do laundry. It's not exactly the same, but it needed to be done and I had some time to catch up on e-mail while the appliances were at work.

With my laundry done and myself through the shower, I said good-bye to my hosts, packed the car and headed west.

Traffic was light leaving Toronto: I had missed the worst of rush hour and since I was heading west, I was going against the bulk of the commuter flow anyway.

My first stop was in Cambridge to visit Sean & Bonnie and family. Sean and I went to high school together some 20+ years ago and was one of my best friends from that era long ago. Their daughter Kelsey just celebrated her 16th birthday; Graeme is 14 (I think). The last time I saw them, Graeme was just starting elementary school.


The kids and two of their friends wanted to go water skiing that afternoon so I joined Sean and the kids in the boat. Sean and I were able to catch up between the kids' wipeouts. I might have tried it myself but I really wasn't dressed or prepped for the adventure. I would have just embarrassed my ancestors, anyway.

Towards 4 PM, I hopped said my good-byes once again and drove the rest of the way to London for the mini-CALLERLAB convention.

The convention was being held at the Best Western Stoneridge Inn & Convention Center, a name almost larger than the building itself. Not that I have any complaints about the hotel itself: it was small but had all of the desired amenities, comfortable workspaces, nice rooms and a pretty good restaurant. I was in room 217, which seemed almost wasteful: I had an enormous king-sized bed in the most spacious room I've ever had in a hotel short of a suite. The only problem with my room is that the chair at the work desk was less than ideal but that's hardly a flaw on an otherwise perfect stay.

[livejournal.com profile] canseefour was handling the registration check-in. She's a natural for that task as I suspect she knows every square dancer in North America and a huge percentage of the rest of the planet. I was also happy to unload the rest of the Zip Coder magazines & subscription forms I was carrying at a table of brochures & pamphlets. [livejournal.com profile] canseefour even offered to take any leftover magazines & forms to the dancer convention later in the week.

Since I hadn't yet found time for dinner, I indulged in a sizable plate of chicken alfredo at the hotel restaurant before dashing off to the opening session of the convention.

The opening comments and information by Barry Clasper and John Marshall were cogent and brief --as they should be. The other guest panelists Bill Harrison and Dana Schirmer along with co-organizer Tim Crawford added some extra info about the value and services of CALLERLAB for the benefit of those not yet members, and I suppose a useful reminder to folks who were longtime members.

The conference itself was an intimate affair: we had about 30 registrants plus a few spouses. I knew nearly everyone by reputation if I hadn't already known them from prior dance or caller events.

Following the opening remarks, there was a schmoozing session at the bar. I chatted up a few people --including Dana, to get information about music licensing for the 2009 IAGSDC convention-- but creeping fatigue whisked me away to my room by 11 PM.
bjarvis: (passport)
I'm heading back to Ontario to visit with family on the weekend and then attend the Canadian mini-CALLERLAB convention in London, ON.

Yes, I have my travel papers lined up: my green card is in my wallet where it should be and my passport has been placed inside my backpack. No mistakes this time! I still need to look through my pile of road maps for appropriate guides but that will only take a moment.

I've dug out my Canadian credit cards, Pizza Pizza slice card and a tonne o' Canuck bucks. To my surprise, I found I had nearly $700 stashed away but I'm taking only half of that, prefering to use my credit cards to document my business expenses.

My flight departs Baltimore at 3:20 PM; a rental car should be waiting for me in Buffalo. I've heard horror stories about folks booking a subcompact and being "upgraded" to a monster SUV because there's such a demand for small vehicles. I'm hoping that arriving just before the weekend may give me an edge but I'll be happy with anything smaller than an Excursion.

Tentatively, I'm shopping & visiting with friends in Toronto on Friday, spending all of Saturday with the family in Mississauga, heading to London Sunday (visiting with friends along the way in Cambridge), then spending the balance of the time in London (evenings should be largely free) before heading back to Buffalo on Thursday. Want to get together? Let me know!
bjarvis: (passport)
I'm heading back to Ontario to visit with family on the weekend and then attend the Canadian mini-CALLERLAB convention in London, ON.

Yes, I have my travel papers lined up: my green card is in my wallet where it should be and my passport has been placed inside my backpack. No mistakes this time! I still need to look through my pile of road maps for appropriate guides but that will only take a moment.

I've dug out my Canadian credit cards, Pizza Pizza slice card and a tonne o' Canuck bucks. To my surprise, I found I had nearly $700 stashed away but I'm taking only half of that, prefering to use my credit cards to document my business expenses.

My flight departs Baltimore at 3:20 PM; a rental car should be waiting for me in Buffalo. I've heard horror stories about folks booking a subcompact and being "upgraded" to a monster SUV because there's such a demand for small vehicles. I'm hoping that arriving just before the weekend may give me an edge but I'll be happy with anything smaller than an Excursion.

Tentatively, I'm shopping & visiting with friends in Toronto on Friday, spending all of Saturday with the family in Mississauga, heading to London Sunday (visiting with friends along the way in Cambridge), then spending the balance of the time in London (evenings should be largely free) before heading back to Buffalo on Thursday. Want to get together? Let me know!
bjarvis: (GCA logo)
While looking through the latest GCA newsletter, I just realized I had a credit for being on the editorial board, another for co-writing an article with [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and six for photographs --and I was in three of the photos!

It's all about me! :-)

I'd like to thank the Academy...
bjarvis: (GCA logo)
While looking through the latest GCA newsletter, I just realized I had a credit for being on the editorial board, another for co-writing an article with [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and six for photographs --and I was in three of the photos!

It's all about me! :-)

I'd like to thank the Academy...
bjarvis: (passport)
I've just booked my air fare for a visit to Ontario, Canada, for July 10-16. The plan is:
  • fly Baltimore to Buffalo on SouthWest
  • rent a car
  • drive to Toronto for a couple of days visiting friends & family
  • drive to London for the Canadian mini-CALLERLAB convention for a couple of days, as well as visiting friends & family
  • driving back to Buffalo
  • flying back to Baltimore.

This time, I'll take my green card and passport.

BTW, I was braced for expensive air fare but was able to get the return ticket for only $166 USD, including taxes & fees! Yay!

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