A Contact Juggling Story in HD

February 22, 2009

I have a new Contact Juggling video up and running, A Contact Juggling Story. The video was filmed in 720p using my new Kodak EasyShare M1033 I mentioned in my Digital Camera Buying Guide. The idea was simple, a contact juggling video with a sufficient plot to be enjoyable by jugglers and nonjugglers alike. Also, most CJ videos involve dancing, and I can’t dance. I hope you enjoy the video.

If you would like to see the video in HD, click the link below when it loads click the link that says, “Watch in HD.”

A Contact Juggling Story [HD]

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Finding a New Digital Camera

February 22, 2009

I’m ready to buy a new digital camera, but with so many options out there, it’s hard for a end-user to know what to get. The important thing to remember is what features you personally need, and find the camera around that.

Deciding what you Need
How will you be using the camera? Are there any features you need specifically?

I wanted the camera to make juggling videos, and possibly some pro-atheism videos, so just about any camera would work. However, I was also interested in producing HD content, since Youtube now allows for it. It looks nice, and it is well worth the viewing.

Here is an example, this is RollingPhysics from Contact Juggling.org showing off his beautiful weather.

Finding What You WantA great camera at a great price.
I could tell you to shop around, but with sites like Newegg you don’t even have to leave the house. Click either Digital Camera or Camcorders, and then on the left you will find their advanced search options.

I chose “recording resolution: 1080i.” That was a mistake. Only one camera and it was $2,700. Once I scaled down to 720p I had a pretty good selection to root through, with plenty of user reviews. I landed on the Kodak EasyShare M1033.

Thanks to having a Best Buy gift card from work, I ended up going to a brick and mortar and picking it up, along with an 8GB SDHC card, which allows for 2 hours of video.

Video Testing
Readers to this site may have noticed there hasn’t been an update in awhile, some of you may know it was because of a flash flood caused by Hurricane Ike. Others may not. Regardless, I have furniture/computer/juggling equipment all over again and within the week a stable Internet connection. To test the camera, I decided to shoot some footage of the new apartment, it’s a little jerky, because I was cold, and you can really see how the quality changes between the light extremes.

Also, my ignorance with the new camera led this video to not be a Youtube HD video… maybe next time after I save it correctly.


Learn to Contact Juggle: Finger Roll, Squeeze Ups and Practice

August 8, 2008

It’s a two-video bonanza for today’s post, you get not only a tutorial video, but a second video to illustrate the importance of practice.

Finger Roll and Squeeze Ups

Two things to note before watching the video. One is to never actually squeeze the ball into the up position. It’s too difficult with sticky balls, like Stage Balls, and it looks terrible. A real squeeze-up is a progression of a finger roll, with you placing your fingers below the ball. In the video, I use the word, “Squeezeup” as a verb a lot, which can be confusing, since I’m telling you not to squeeze the ball. Sorry about that. I’m American. I verb everything.

Practice Sessions

Getting the most out of your practice sessions is essential to making any substantial progress. Be sure to stretch your muscles before begin to prevent strain and injury. Also, try warming up with moves you know fairly well before progressing into more difficult territory. I like to warm up with juggling balls, but anything will work.

Another key to a good practice session is to know how much you are progressing. You  can do this by keeping a mental note, such as “I couldn’t do a butterfly on the 18th, but it’s the 25th and now I only drop half the time” or by recording a video. I like video, because it lets me see myself progress throughout several clips. I can also see if I’m doing anything terribly wrong, or if an audience would have trouble seeing the move.

That’s all for now, but remember to keep praticing and you’ll make substantial progress in no time.


Dark Knight Batmobile and Batpod Pictures

July 4, 2008

The actual, real Batmobile and Batpod used in filming The Dark Knight made visits to 14 cities around the United States, and a St Louis Wehrenberg Theater was one of them!

Alright, I’m about to geek-out. Prepare yourself.

OMG THE BATMOBILE.

OMG THE BATMOBILE.

Smaller than I thought it was going to be.

Smaller than I thought it was going to be.

Even the trailer was cool.

Even the trailer was cool.

I’m really excited about The Dark Knight, midnight shows will be on 7/17.


Learn a Complicated Contact Juggling Move

June 10, 2008

Take a few minutes today and learn a very complicated looking Contact Juggling move, the Two Handed Crossed Up Isolation. It’s a great first step into the world of contact juggling, and since the cross-up iso is easy to pick up, it’s a quick carrot to grab.

As far as updates go, well, I know they have been kind of slack, but I should be able to retain my schedule for the foreseeable future.


1001 Books and Impending Doom

May 21, 2008

The 1morechapter blog has posted the titles from 1001 Books to Read before You Die, an intimidating list of material for any literature fan. I’d like to consider myself well read, but if I’ve only read 40 books from the 1001, a mere 3.996%, do I really have an opinion that could be considered valuable?

To be honest, I haven’t even finished all of the 40 books on that list. Anne Proulx The Shipping News? Any brave soul that ventures to the end of that novel deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor, or in the very least a peaceful escape into the afterlife. The book was terrible, but it made the list.

I believe John August  agrees with me on this point, arbitrary lists spanning hundreds of years of literature may not be everybody’s cup of tea. I was worried I wouldn’t break 10 until I hit books from the 1900s and onward. My saving grace, as far as the list goes, were William Faulkner and Hemingway.

On top of all fo this, a good amount of the list reaks of elitist lit-critic trash. Anne Proulx’s stinker was mentioned prior, but look who else makes the list, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott and everything written by Charles Dickens! Surely, they are all great writers, but do they really warrant required reading before you die? I mean, I’m in absolute love with Italo Calvino, but I really wouldn’t push If on a winter’s night a traveler… to every reader.

Read for the sake of reading, and read what you enjoy. Don’t bother with lists that claim you’ve missed all the important facets.


Nutshells, Quickies and Flash Fiction

February 20, 2008

Writing flash fiction, nano fiction, short shorts, et cetera can not only be a lot of fun, but also a great way to warm up to a new story. After reading a few of Ruzkin’s 50-word Fiction pieces, I had to give it a shot. Although I wasn’t too sure how strict a person had to be on the 50 word target, I kept myself to using exactly 50 words to keep it interesting for myself, but that is not a rule that you, as a writer, have to follow.

Survival
Thomas opened his copy of the Post to the classifieds. Drivers, housekeepers, fry cooks and nurses were all wanted, but not network technicians. He pulled the newsprint over his body and managed to fall asleep on a bench. Thomas needed to stay dry if he wanted to survive the night.

Hot Coffee
Every night, except for tonight, Leonard Pilot goes to the Boston Bread Company for a whole wheat bagel and iced black coffee. Every night, they give him a hot cup of coffee. Tonight, Leonard reminds himself, he’ll give them a hot coffee.

Leonard doesn’t even know what that means. Yet.

Communication Breakdown
Samantha was nervous about taking her Chicago friends out to dinner with Robbie. Since he had got back from culinary school daily eating had become complicated ordeals.

“But Robbie, nobody cares whether the Cashew Chicken is Springfield style,” she said.

“Ignorance is no reason to ignore the oyster sauce, Sam.”

Fairy Tale
In the kingdom of Burr lived a menacing ghost. Chuck, as his friends called him, began to worry about the recent Burrian economic downturn. With ghost scoiety dependent upon happy, living humans, Chuck felt it was his duty to help.

Soon, Chuck realized the complexity of being a Monarchy’s accountant.

Closing Thoughts
I found this exercise to be more difficult than I planned. Compressing an entire narrative into such a few words seemed impossible, and only after thinking through my characters and the importance of each word was I able to complete each short.

What I’ve learned, is that there is no reason that this importance and focus shouldn’t be carried into a longer narrative. In fact, one of the 50 word shorts I was writing continued itself well past its 50 word limit. I hope to see it as a fully fleshed out story soon, but it may serve well enough as a lesson in being concise and well paced. It really makes me want to pick up Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the New Millennium.

By the way
As an astronomy buff, I would feel amiss not to mention the Total Lunar Eclipse tonight, be sure to check it out.