Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rangeela 2009

I went this year to the cultural celebration that is put on by Calvin students. Needless to say, it was EPIC! The acts came from across the world: Hawai'i, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea, Africa, China, Europe (ha), India and Japan. The audio for the opening sequence was Jai Ho, Oscar winner this year, it gave me chills up and down my spine for its entirety. Diverse and impressive, each was a treat for the eyes and ears. Jin Ha Kim opened with "We Are One in the Spirit" and was joined by a small choir and the house band. Excellent beginning.

The first act was from Hawai'i. They did traditional dances, first with solely hand movements. The second set used sticks to create rhythms and follow the beat, then a second group came out with gourds and did a dance. The movements were incredibly fluid and beautiful.

Next came a Filipino mock war dance (Maglalatik). The performers beat on their chests and backs with coconut parts. It was a very powerful performance. The version that was performed actually represented coconut gatherers joyfully working int the fields.

The dance from Vietnam followed. The performers did a fan and umbrella dance. It is done to celebrate the lunar new year in Vietnam. The fan motions and umbrella wielding resulted in a masterful and resplendent rendition. This was probably my favorite part of the evening because two of my friends were in it, An and Tu, they were so good!

Indonesia arrived next with "Angklung", played with traditional instruments made from bamboo. The arrangement reminded me of Western handbells. It was far more than that though. Chanting and an extremely intricate set of hand clapping and synchronized movements combined to form an inspiring was rly good.

A Hispanic performance of the Guelaguetza was next. This is a partner dance, that is similar to the square dance in the structural element. The dance tells a continual love story between the dancers of each couple. A friend was in this one two, very cool dance.

South Korea finished the first set with two dances: Traditional ladies dance and modern guys dance. The ladies were in traditional dresses and danced with So-Go drums (hand drums). It was very elegant and flowed exquisitely. The men (and one woman) did a more modern dance with large trash cans (very effective for making beats). It was great, they had a couple of guys lay down the powerful main beat by pounding the cans on stage, and the others beat on them with sticks. Some friends in this one too, a very powerful performance.

After intermission came the African dance. It was done historically in the gold mines of South Africa and used as a means of communication. A percussion oriented piece using body parts and their boots.

A love story from China followed this. The moon goddess falls in love with a palace guard, but is challenged by a high official. The women dance first, the official chases them away, then the palace guard does a martial art themed dance (suh-weet!). The two lovers finally dance, the official enters and kills the leader of the guard...oh no! Well, they find each other in heaven and all is well.

The European act was next and better than I thought it would be. It featured a study in contrast between Spanish and German dance. The performers were very proficient...very. Strict tradition met fun and informal Spanish pride...excellence was emitted.

From India came the "Aaja Nachle" (let's dance). The first dance was effeminate and very pleasing to the eyes ;). The performers hands and bodies moved gracefully and effortlessly. The next two songs both involved men, who did exceptional jobs as well. The final song was traditional Tamil, in which the man admires his lover's beauty. Much was to be admired.

The final performance was from Japan. The dances were full of energy imparted from the rhythm of the drums and lofty melody of flutes. The dances were elegant yet powerful, and displayed vibrant colors on beautiful clothing (kimonos for the women and vest-like wear for the men).

I don't think I could be more impressed right now. The mood was charged, and the performances were seemingly flawless. I will likely be attending next year as well, it had been several years since I had been there. It meant a lot more to actually know some of the students involved this time though. To all of my friends involved, none of whom read this, you did an excellent job! So good, so good. It makes me want to be from a culture that involves more dances than those with wooden shoes and rigidity. Sublime. Mellifluous. Pulchritudinous. Rangeela 2009!
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fry and Laurie

I came across this tidbit through a tweet by @stephenfry today. He is the Fry of Fry and Laurie, incidentally is an avid twitterer, and is absolutely hilarious. I think I might have to peruse more of their content on youtube. Also, I like the juxtaposition of seeing Hugh Laurie on House, and his comedies of yesteryear. It's very refreshing.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


There have been murmurings of fake followers on Twitter. I would like to know who cares, and why. Does it make you cooler to have more followers that don't contribute? I have far more respect for those that contribute valuable information, or even simply tweet about their lives. Two outstanding examples of this are @stephenfry, an Englishman who writes about his life very convincingly and in interesting fashion, and @zaibatsu, a maven of social media as his profile proclaims. People like these two bring so much to Twitter and are followed because of this. If Twitter has turned into a follower competition, maybe users are missing the point. It seems to me that people should be more worried about getting real eyes to their feed, if that's their thing, than worrying about "fake" eyes that really don't contribute to "prestige" or add content.

Also, ev, Twitter's CEO has replied convincingly to these rumors, so I'm inclined even less to worry about this non-issue. I'm only writing about this because of the ridiculous amounts of posts I've been seeing referring to it. Tweet on.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Remembering Marquis, Marquisha

City of CincinnatiImage via Wikipedia

I remembered something that Marquis and Marquisha's grandmother said to me in Cincinnati. When we were there, the political campaigning season was in full sway. She said, "F--- McCain, Obama, Clinton...none of them ain't done s--- for me...only thing I can do is look out for myself and my kids." It's so true, especially when I think about where all that bailout money is going. You can be sure it's not going to them. I can't stop thinking about them and the place where they live. Are the walls cascading with trash, and frigid to the touch. Is their home cold, or have they gotten electricity money for the bills? Are they growing and learning? I think I'm going to have to e-mail Pastor Pam. God be with them.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009


It's been a year now. We hope, we pray and we pray some more. Things are beginning to look up, but the job market just isn't what is used to be. Everyone knows this. Our family's is just another unfortunate story of the millions that are being lived and told. We'll see what this year has in store. Perhaps faint glimmerings will become realities soon.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Another week bites the dust

Well, here we are at the end of another week. They always seem to go so fast. Tonight I'll probably do the normal routine that most awesome bachelors do. Homework while watching a movie. I realize that this is incredibly lame, but I really don't care. I kind of enjoy staying in and just doing whatever. I'm kind of working through a movie list right now, and my homework needs doing. Might as well be productive right? It might not seem enjoyable, but the stillness is nice, and tomorrow I get to see my family.

On an unrelated note, I managed to add a decent reader, configure Tweetdeck and Thunderbird to my liking. Hopefully this will minimize my online time to the necessary things and increase my homework time.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Because I Can

I decided to post, for no other reason than that I can, and that Zemanta is fun to use. Well, I guess it is noteworthy to say that I added a translator to the old blog today. Now my vast audiences from around the globe that number in the zero can access this delicate prose in their native tongues. This does bring me to the Blogger template. I don't want to move to a layout version. Give me my HTML. Do I want to have a nice little UI that I can use to pull boxes all over the place with? No. Steve wants to be able to make things as wide and skinny, tall and short as he so pleases. Also, I decided to use all the links Zemanta provides from now on, even if they do not fit. Take UI for example, interesting, but not so relevant. Maybe next time.
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Monday, February 09, 2009


Ross' HomeworkImage by laffy4k via Flickr

Lately I've been feeling kind of constrained and backed into a corner with homework and responsibilities; pretty normal for a college student. Yesterday though, I felt more at peace than I have in a long time. It might have been the spring-like weather, or seeing my extended family, but something changed. At L.O.F.T. last night, I was filled with overwhelming joy, and I could not stop smiling. I think I even laughed aloud during a song we were singing. I hope this lasts; it feels good.
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Thanks much

By the way, thanks to Alex for relaying the good word about Zemanta. It's really a great blogging tool, it recommends tags and offers to insert links for you to Wikipedia pages. I'm impressed.

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So in middle school and high school, I was involved in Science Olympiad in region 12 doing a variety of powder and chemical analysis events. I never really understood the chemistry of it until now. In O-Chem lab, we started integrating chemical analysis of substances with the normal IR, GC and NMR methods that we usually use, and it's all coming together. It's kind of sad that it took me until my second year of undergrad to understand why the things I did in 8th-12th grade worked, but let's not dwell on that. Kudos to David VanDyke for instructing middle schoolers in identification chemistry.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

60 ton angel

The album In Absentia is the most beautiful collection of music I've ever heard.
I got wiring loose inside my head
It has an mellifluous quality to it that is just amazing.
I got books that I never ever read
The rhythms flow and writhe.
I got secrets in my garden shed
Bass echoes from the bottom of my soul, urging it to sing.
I got a scar where all my urges bled
The lyrics are compelling and peaceful, yet passionate.
I got people underneath my bed
Reminds me of a time and place, not long ago, that I dearly miss.
I got a place where all my dreams are dead
Yet I'm left hopeful of what is and has yet to come.
Swim with me into your blackest eyes