Thursday, November 2, 2017

I got the beat...

Apologies in advance to the Go-Go's.  What I've really got is a new toy:  a Korg model IE-1M in-ear metronome.  I'm not all that musical so I'm hoping that this little gizmo will plant a sense of timing within my thick head.

It comes nested in it's own little box.  The unoccupied slot in the foam on the right hand side is for the button battery.  Yes, the battery is included.  This photograph was exposed after I'd taken it out and futzed with it a bit.

This pix shows the overall appearance of the gizmo.  The grey round wheel looking part allows for adjustments which I'll touch upon later.

The hardest part was getting the black stretchy speaker cover in place.  My fingers were too clumsy.  Had to get my wife involved.  In the middle one can see two small push buttons.  The closest one is the on/off switch.  The other button is a mode button which allows one to toggle through the various settings for the IE-1M, which include beats per minute (adjustable from 30 to 252 in steps of  one beat), beats per measure (from 0 to 9), rhythm (quarter notes are the default) and loudness (either low or high).  In this pix I have the ear clip in the open position.

Here, the ear clip is closed.  The round speaker can swivel through a limited arc to accommodate different shaped ears.
In this pix I've used the mode button to toggle to the beats per minute position, and then used the grey"jog switch" (the wheel shaped part that lives between the black and white halves of the metronome) to set the bpm to 108.  Perfect for the Swing Dance and Fiesta Tango.
In this pix I've moved on and adjusted the beats per measure to 4.  Again, the Swing Dance and Fiesta are 4 beat dances.

If one is practicing a 6 beat dance such as a waltz, the adjustment is easily accomplished.

This shows the rhythm set for 1/4 notes.  There are other rhythms available but I'm not musical enough to sort through that yet.

Finally, here's a pix showing the loudness adjusted to the highest of the two settings available.  I have not tried the metronome out yet during a skating session, but I suspect if a trumpet player can blow a horn and still hear the beats with this gizmo in an ear then it should work for ice dancers as well.
Those interested can read more here:

The little gizmo even retains its settings after being switched off rather than going back to some default collection.  Bonus!

I ordered mine from Musician's Friend.  Prices vary quite a lot and also note that Korg makes other in ear metronomes for other uses.  The IE-1M is the cheapest of the range.

Will it help keep me on time?  Will it stay on my ear while skating?  Will the itty-bitty buttons drive me crazy?  Don't know yet--stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy today's earworm!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Where did two monhs go?

I clicked on this blog and realized that my last post was back at the end of August.  That's what happens when my sailing events ramp up.  As for skating it's same old, same old.  I'm still polishing the Cha-Cha with the possibility of testing on the 8th of December--so that's a bright spot.

The other two pre-bronze dances, namely the Swing Dance and the Fiesta Tango are waiting for my right forward inside Mohawk to report for duty.  It's still wonky, if slightly improving.  It's a road block.  Progress won't happen until I can routinely control it.  I have a beautiful left forward inside Mohawk but like NACAR, pattern dances go CC.  Oh, I suppose sooner or later it will come up to scratch, just like the Rhythm Blues tuck behinds did.  Will I live long enough?  Good question.  Watch this space.

Meanwhile, tonight is Halloween and Coach A. has canceled all her lessons so she can hand out goodies to the kiddies that come by her door begging for treats.  We'll see if I still remember how to tie my boots by next week.  Ta for now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bobbe Shire RIP

Bobbe Shire coached over at the Gardens in Laurel, Maryland and was a well known Spin coach. Several times I wrestled with the urge to go see if I could book her for a few coaching sessions but hesitated because I didn't feel that my skating was good enough for such an advanced instructor. I missed my chance and ironically my name is George!  iCoahskating has made this iconic video of Bobbe coaching available for viewing free of charge, at least for now.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

Well, yes, like most statements here on the Thin Ice blogspot, the title of this post is a bit of an overstatement.  More correctly, "the sun is cooling!" "the sun is cooling!";  But Chicken Little didn't say that so I'm using a small pinch of poetic license.  Our sun is approaching the end of an eleven year sun spot cycle.  Fewer spots apparently mean less solar flux and distinctly cooler temperatures in North America and Western Europe.  Maybe not enough to cause the Thames to freeze hard enough for Londoners to hold ice fairs, as was the case a few hundred years ago, but maybe enough to provide an up-tick in outdoor skating opportunities at a pond near you.  But don't take my word for it, I'm no expert.  Read about it here or it you prefer a more sensational version, read this one .

OK, enough science for one post.  More to the point--what's been happening with your old diarist since the last posting of blather?  For one thing I've been hard at work practicing the Cha-Cha and perfecting my wonky CC forward inside Mohawk. For another, ice dance Coach A. and I finally had an alignment of stars and respective schedules/agendas such that miracle of miracles--a coached lesson took place.  It was the first since the 25th of July and the first on my newly reopened home ice for the new skating season.

I soloed the Cha-Cha for her and she said that it looked pretty good.  I was more or less on the expected pattern and the end of the dance (a forward outside swing roll immediately followed by a tuck behind step and a forward inside swing roll) looked smoother and less hesitant than when we last worked on it.  So--practice does lead to improvement!

We then looked at my CC forward inside Mohawk.  It's still a work in progress but at least it is progressing.  And that's a good thing as we next worked on the Swing dance, which requires that tidy CC Mohawk.  After yesterday's lesson I now have a better understanding of pattern placement leading to that Mohawk and also where the immediate back edge and back swing roll which follow the turn should be.  Next we practiced with me skating the backwards skating steps of the dance and also the hand change that occurs at the Mohawk (see video above).  In the "guys rarely skate backwards department", I need to remember to open my shoulders during those back swing rolls so that they really swing around, rather than to make the upper body adjustment by bending my elbows when in partnered mode--that and a lot of other things!  My goal is to be as smooth as the guy in the video (some year).

Ice dance coach and her sister are zooming off to follow the eclipse next Monday and whether she'll be back in time for a Tuesday lesson is uncertain.  As for me I'm staying home and practicing all this stuff and maybe it's a good thing that the next lesson is up in the air--more time to digest yesterday's lesson and work on stuff.  Besides, you want totality?  Just get outta bed at 3 in the morning and look outside--same thing.  Dark is dark.  No, really, it is.  Don't argue with me.  Put your skates on and get to work. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And so it begins

The 2017/18 skating season at Bowie Ice Arena finally got underway this past Saturday after replacing one compressor and repairing the cooling tower.  Better late than never.  As per usual, I was otherwise engaged on Saturday and so the beginning of my new season had to wait a day.  Better late than never.  At the start of a new season I like to look back, one last time, at the old year.  How many times did I skate?  What, if anything, was achieved for the money spent and time invested?  The number of times I skated is easy because I keep track of each session I skate by sticking the ice pass to the wall of my cube at work:

NB: my desk is rarely this tidy.  Thirteen columns x 9 rows = 117 times on the ice.  The lion's share took place on home ice, the remainder were at two other rinks  My high water mark is the 2014/15 season.
The last time I posted this picture was at the end of the 2014/15 season. I managed to skate 128 times that year.  The 2015/16 season was the one that included my recovery from a bad fall and so wasn't even half the total of the benchmark skating season.  In hindsight I should have posted that year's sticker wall.  Just returning to the ice was the major accomplishment.  But, as impressive (at least to me) as my great wall of ice passes may seem, if one divides the totals from either "good" year by 52 it comes out to less than three times per week.  Three times per week would require 156 outings on the ice. Three times a week for a guy who has to cram skating into his work schedule--can I sustain it?  Don't know, but something to aim at.
The 2017/18 season begins.  Will this little fellow find 155 friends before they melt the ice in June?
Along with "quantity" one must include "quality", i.e. whatever "progress" was made.  In my case, last season's major milestone was that I managed to stagger past a USFS judge well enough to complete my Prelim ice dances.  Goals for this year?  I keep them modest.  I'd like to pass the Cha Cha, which seems like a reasonable goal.  But what about the Swing Dance and the Fiesta Tango?  The goal here is to finally conquer my wonky CC forward inside Mohawk required of both dances and clean up my back edges so that the back chasse and back swing roll steps are good enough to at least practice those dances in their entirety.  If Coach A. thinks that they're test worthy by spring that will be icing on the cake. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Almost back up and running

The photos that follow show different stages of repainting the rink's hockey lines, face-off dots and circles before building the new sheet of ice.  This is where the rink staff were roughly a month ago, before the cooling tower failure.  Current thinking is that the rink might reopen by this coming weekend.  Fingers crossed!  Meanwhile, Coach A. and I have a lesson planned for tonight's Free Style session over at Piney Orchard.  I haven't had a lesson since the end of April.  We'll see if I remember anything.  Let's review some notes from the last lesson: "TGIF".  Humm what's all that then?  Oh yes--I remember: "Toes Go In First"!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

For the want of a fan, the kingdom was lost

So close...  (photo credit:  Derek Rabold, BIA)
The above photo is what a newly formed sheet of ice looks like after a cooling tower failure.  Our rink has been closed for annual maintenance since the beginning of May.  It was due to reopen this coming Saturday.  The cause of the meltdown is hoped to be a relatively inexpensive fan.  But even it that's the case, it will take at minimum, an additional week to clean up, repaint all the hockey lines, dots, etc. and build the sheet again.  So, your old diarist is still in ice tourist mode.  Sigh...