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Snowpants

Growing up, snowpants were for playing in snow. If we were going out to play and there was snow on the ground, we wore them, otherwise we just wore the same pants we had on indoors. This winter with our kids, though, we've started giving them snowpants any time it's cold. So much better! Instead of them getting cold quickly, we just came back in from 1.5hr playing outside.

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Taking someone aside

(This is written with the contra dance community in mind, but is reasonably general.)

Let's say you're on a safety committee at a dance, or an organizer or something, and someone's causing a problem. Maybe you've gotten reports that they're hurting people, dancing too close, or not taking no for an answer. You've talked as a organizing group, their behavior doesn't justify an immediate ban, and now it's time to talk to the person in question to get them to stop. How do you go about that?

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Facebook Donation Match

For the last three years Facebook has offered donation matching on Giving Tuesday (11/27) where the first $X to be donated is matched 1:1. In general, I'm pretty skeptical about donation matches: much of the time when someone tells you you can "double your donation" that's not really what's going to happen. Specifically, if I donate $X, the charity ends up about $X richer than if I hadn't donated, not the $2X I might have been led to believe.

In this case, though, there's a $7M pool of money that will go first-come-first-served. This is more or less distributing money to charities more or less in proportion to how organized and coordinated their donors are, and I think that's something the EA community can do really well with! Here's what you do:

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Legal questions around safety committees

As communities try to do a better job preventing and limiting abuse, harassment, etc, one common approach has been to put together a committee to hear reports and investigate problems (example). For a community that exists in isolation, my understanding is that there aren't really open legal questions: they can take action up to and including banning as needed. Where this gets tricky, though, is with coordination between groups.

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Right-hand mandolin or guitar

When I play mandolin or guitar for dances a huge amount of what I'm doing is three things:
  • Left hand chooses what chord to play, typically as an open fifth (root-fifth, no third, so no distinction between major and minor).

  • Left hand switches between muted and unmuted.

  • Right hand triggers the notes, varying both the timing and the intensity.

You can see what this sounds like, with more explanation, in my mandolin teaching videos.

Lately I've been trying to figure out ways to do more things at once while playing live, with the general goal of being able to get the kind of full sound that typically requires more people. One possibility is to figure out something I can do in order to get part of what I like about my mandolin playing with just one hand. Ideas:

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Boston Solstice 2018

Six years ago Julia and I took the bus down to NYC with a group from the Boston LessWrong meetup. We were headed to a Solstice celebration and 'megameetup' Ray was organizing. It was a good weekend: lots of talking to people I'd only met online, various proto-EA conversations, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The Solstice itself was in a crowded living room, and I remember playing guitar for Uplift, Thanksgiving Eve, and God Wrote the Sky. This was the second NYC Solstice, the first one being in 2011, and it was still a cosy event.

NYC Solstice 2012; I'm in the middle

We went again the next year, for the first big Solstice. There was a Kickstarter, it was a beautiful hall, full band of professional musicians. Good in a different way, still a really nice time to see friends and get together.

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