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Masonic Hall AC

I was talking to folks at the Masonic Hall, where BIDA dances, and they're looking at putting in air conditioning. The hall has ventilation issues at the best of times, and is unusable for a good chunk of the summer, so it makes a lot of sense that they're thinking about it!

The system they're thinking of is four MUZ-D36NA units. I see these listed as having a cooling capacity of 36 kBTU/hr each, and a person dancing puts out ~350 BTU/hr, so it looks to me like this should be able to keep up with a full hall of dancers?

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Thoughts on AMP

(I work on ads at Google, which involves working closely with some AMP folks. These are all my views and not theirs or my employer's)

AMP is a way of writing web pages using a subset of HTML and CSS, plus some open source Javascript libraries. It has two main properties that allow it to be perform very well under some circumstances:

  • It doesn't allow many inefficient things that regular pages can do. You can't include an image tag without specifying its size, you can't write horribly performing javascript that blocks the UI thread and locks the page, you can only use CSS transitions that can be GPU-accellerated, etc.

  • It's designed for pre-rendering. The AMP JS knows when it's being speculatively rendered and prioritizes the most important and cheapest things. Additionally, this pre-rendering can happen in a privacy-preserving way

This is a really good fit for the case AMP was designed for: very fast loading when you click through from search results. This is a major use case in general and especially for Google. In order to provide this, however, AMP is fundamentally dependent on its javascript library, or 'runtime'. The runtime schedules the loading of everything on the page, tries to prioritize content that will be viewed soon, understands whether it's in prendering mode, etc.

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What is Phrasing in Contra Dance?

If you come to contra dance from a different tradition, or you're a DJ putting together sets for a techno contra, people will tell you to choose "square" tunes with "clear phrasing". What does this mean?

In contra dance you take one step for every beat of music, and it's all built around powers of two:

  • 2 beats: roll away, pass through, pull by.
  • 4 beats: balance (which is two 2s), petronella and rory-o-moore spins, turn as a couple.
  • 8 beats: long lines, chain, right and left through (all of which are two 4s)
  • 16 beats: balance and swing, full hey

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Right Shoulder Round

One of the figures in contra dance has traditionally been called "gypsy", a figure where two people walk around each other, typically while maintaining eye contact. It was borrowed from English Country Dance in the 1970s, which got it from Morris dancing, and history before Cecil Sharp wrote it down in ~1909 is not known.

Being the name of a historically oppressed group of people, over the past few years there's been a push to switch away from the term. People suggested alternatives and debated their merits, callers tested them out at dances and figured out what worked, and at this point it looks to me like we're landing on "right shoulder round". Examples:

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Value of Working in Ads?

I recently gave a talk about my experience earning to give, and someone asked whether I saw the direct impact of my work as positive or negative. This is a good question, and a common objection to earning to give: you wouldn't want to take a job that was majorly negative for the world in order to earn a bit more money to donate. So how is the world different with me doing this job as opposed to something else?

I work in display advertising at Google, which means AdSense and Ad Manager (formerly DoubleClick for Publishers). These help people who have websites to put ads on them.

So one question, then, is whether the display ads business is overall positive or negative for the world. I think it's generally positive, despite some downsides: the majority of websites are funded through ads, and this has allowed an enormous diversity of information to flourish. I can afford to write for fun and run this site without ads on it [1], but many people with interesting things to say can't. The New York Times can convince some people to pay, but a subscription-only web would be much worse. Overall, ads are a very progressive and democratic way of funding things: everyone can read and everyone can write, not just people who can pay.

On the other hand, it's not ideal. Ads are often annoying, and can get in the way of what you're trying to read. They can be slow to download or execute and delay the rest of the page. Similarly, they can download large images or videos using up your metered data plan. While sometimes ads fill a beneficial function of informing you about something you'll honestly be better off from having purchased, other times they're trying to convince you to spend your money foolishly.

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Trycontra Implementation

A while ago I wrote a very simple site that let you put in your zip code and find nearby dances:

Since there are only ~300 contra dances and ~40k zip codes I decided to do everything client side. The browser downloads a file of dances (json) that looks like this:

...
["http://www.nbcds.org/",
 "Santa Rosa CA",
 "Fridays and Saturdays", 15,
 38.44, -122.71, ""],

["http://www.nbcds.org/",
 "San Rafael CA",
 "Saturdays", 12,
 37.97, -122.53, ""],

["http://www.nbcds.org/",
 "Sebastopol CA",
 "Saturdays", 12,
 38.4, -122.82,
 "Larks / Ravens"],
...

And a file of zip codes (json) that looks like this:

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