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How We Cool Our House

Kitchen thermostat when I came home from work today:

It's showing:

  • 90F: 24hr max outdoor temp
  • 87F: current outdoor temp
  • 80F: 24hr max indoor temp
  • 78F: current indoor temp
  • 70F: 24hr min indoor temp
  • 67F: 24hr min outdoor temp

This is mid-July in Boston, without air conditioning, just fans. The idea is you cool the house off at night, and then keep it from warming up too much during the day. It's cutting about 10F off the day's high.

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Standardize Bottles

Products come in a wide range of containers varying in material, shape, color, texture, etc. This makes recycling very inefficient: instead of washing and reusing the containers we need break them down into raw materials and build back up from there. Standardization would help a lot here: figure out what range of shapes and sizes you need to cover most of the market, and design some sturdy reusable containers for them. Probably clear glass, which companies can then glue paper labels to. This makes it worth it to collect the containers whole and reuse them.
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Sliding Scale

One thing I like about BIDA's $5-$15 sliding scale is that there are a wide range of reasons someone might not be able to afford our break-even rate: students, but also retirees, unemployed people, people with low paying jobs, people covering expenses for a lot of dependents, etc. While many organizations pick specific categories for discounts, a sliding scale means the organizers aren't in the business of judging people's financial situations.

This is enough of a reason to have a sliding scale that I think it's the right choice for Beantown Stomp and other capacity-constrained events. But most contra dance evenings don't sell out, and there I see another strong reason for a sliding scale: I'd rather have people come than stay home. Some people will always be on the fence about whether to come, and there are people who can afford $15 but at $15 would rather stay home. If they come and pay $5 then everyone is better off than if they had stayed home or went to a movie.

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Carcassone Pirates

When playing with the river expansion the first few turns are often not that interesting. Half of the river tiles have nothing to do but farm, and farming that early isn't attractive since you don't know how the bridges will break up the area. So we play with pirates:

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Standing Offer: Contra Music Feedback

One of the best ways to improve as a band is to record your playing and listen back to it. This was really useful when the Free Raisins were getting started and finding our sound, and I'm again finding it valuable with Kingfisher. When you're playing you mostly hear yourself and not the whole group, and you often hear more how you wish you were playing than how you actually are. Listening to recordings lets you consider your music from a more objective place, shows you ways it could be better, and gives you more time to think about how you want to sound.

Sometimes, though, it's helpful to get even more distance and hear what other people think. When I ask friends how the music was, however, they just say generic positive things. I think this comes from a combination of politeness, not having good words for things, not having been paying close enough attention to give actionable feedback, etc. So I'd like to make a standing offer for any contra dance band to listen to a recording of a set and give feedback.

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Larks/Ravens and Newcomers

There's recently been some discussion around how people new to dancing find Larks/Ravens terms as compared to Gents/Ladies, and someone recently wrote to me asking what I'd seen. I started writing a response just to them, but it seemed general enough for a post.

BIDA switched to Larks/Ravens two years ago after about eight years of Gents/Ladies. While to experienced dancers Larks/Ravens was a change, to newcomers that's just the way the dance is.

Things mostly seem pretty similar to before the change: we still have lots of newcomers and not that many come back and become regulars. Attendance is pretty noisy but doesn't seem to have been affected:

live graphs

I have noticed some smaller changes, though:

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