Traditional Dance

Traditional dancers are exactly what the name implies; they are old style dancers using old style materials in their outfit. Traditional dancer use their movement to tell stories of the hunt and combat.

Early on Sunday morning, 9AM is very early on a powwow weekend, there was a veterans dance special. Vets from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were asked to assemble and dance. Lakota’s, like all other Native nations, still highly honor their veterans and warriors. A small group of dancers dressed out and participated. The following is a pictorial representation of their story…

 

 

The dance begins, warriors bent over looking for evidence of their quarry. They move slowly, hunched over looking for the tracks or other signs of an enemy’s passage.

 

 

 

Tracks are found! The dancers are now more mobile still looking at the signs but moving towards their targets. It is time to chase something down.

 

 

 

 

Once the target is acquired the battle is engaged. The dancers range in a smaller area, body movements are exaggerated, dodging, weaving, and spinning to get the advantage over their foe.

 

 

 

 

The enemy is finally but inevitably finished off with a final blow or shot.

 

 

 

The dancers then celebrate their victory, their survival, to live another day!

 

 

 

 

There are other stories as well. Hunts and the rescue of a fallen warrior are also danced.

Many years ago I was dancing at Daniel’s Park Tall Bull Memorial Grounds just south of Denver. At the time there was a very large light post in the exact center of the dance arbor. There were 5 or so other dancers out there with me and we were given a sneakup song. We all started dancing in our own way; there was no communication between us. At some point near the end of the song we all decided that the light pole was our enemy and on the very last beat of the drum we all struck the pole with our dance sticks. As the song died out we stood there and looked at each other as smiles crept over our faces, we had all danced the same story. It remains one of those very strange synchronis, yes apparently I just made that word up and I like it so it will stay, moments in my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Powwow Photography

Powwows are a public celebration of Native song, dance, food and culture that are open for anyone to enjoy. No one tribe can claim full ownership of the powwow but each nation has added their own style and flavor to the family friendly celebrations. Capturing the colors and movement of a powwow is as rewarding as it is challenging. Conditions at powwows can range from bright sunlit outdoor arbors to dark indoor gymnasiums. Both venues have unique challenges that a photographer needs to overcome.

Fees –

Photography is encouraged at powwows; however there may be a small photo and video fee that is requested by the powwow committee. This fee is almost never required of participants using cell phone and smaller digital point and shoot cameras. If you are using a DSLR camera with larger lenses it is best to ask about these fees at the dancer registration desk before shooting. You will be handed a photo/video pass that needs to be displayed prominently on your equipment. There are also some basic behavior rules that photographers should follow during their shoot.

10 Powwow Photography rules –

  1. Listen to the Master of Ceremonies the MC, he is there to not only inform and instruct he will have an endless supply of really bad jokes to throw out during the powwow.
  2. The MC will ask spectators to stand during the grand entry, invocation, flag song, and victory dance, please stand when requested to do so.
  3. Dancers in the dance circle are free game, shoot to your heart’s content. If dancers are not dancing and outside the circle please ask permission first.
  4. Do not interfere or chase the dancers, stay on the edge of the dance circle. A good rule of thumb is to go no further into the dance circle than the drum groups.
  5. There will be an arena director, if he asks anything of you or gives you directions please follow them. In the old days arena directors carried whips or sticks and would use them on dancers and spectators that were not following instructions.
  6. During the competitions there will be judges standing or moving around the outside of the dance circle, stay clear of them so they can do their job. You can identify them by clipboards and their serious looks.
  7. Please do not photograph any feather pickup ceremonies. When an eagle feather drops from a dance outfit; 4 veteran dancers will be asked to dance around the fallen feather and retrieve it from the ground. Once again listen to the MC he will let everyone know when this is happening.
  8. Flash or Speedlites, I must confess that this is a personal rule. Before I picked up a camera I was a traditional dancer and I developed an intense dislike of photographers using a speedlite. It was distracting to me, especially during contests.
  9. During intertribals if you ever feel the need to get out there and dance, go ahead and do so, that is what intertribals are for.
  10. Feel free to talk to the dancers, singers, spectators, and vendors interact with them when not behind the view finder.

     

It is not necessary to have large and expensive equipment. I have made some spectacular images using a point and shoot digital camera and even the camera on my cell phone. The disadvantage of a point and shoot digital is many seem to have a serious lag time between hitting the shutter button and actual shutter response. I have found that it is nearly impossible to get a good image of the fast moving fancy dancers. If you have a quick reacting point and shoot give it a try. Cell phones and DSLR cameras have much faster shutter response and are therefore easier to use.

 

I will follow up this post with more information regarding suggested equipment, and the more technical aspects of powwow photography in the near future.

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The Demon in the Spare Bedroom

Yesterday was interesting…

Some friends of mine in Pueblo Colorado are moving to Tennessee for health reasons and we wanted to give them one last visit before they left. They have two dogs and a 7 month old kitten. The dogs are fine but the people they will be staying with are allergic to cats. Wendy informed us that she was unable to locate a local no kill shelter that would take cats. Jonette and I know of a no kill shelter here in Denver and agreed to take the little tortie kitten with us Sunday afternoon. We both figured that we could at worst bring the kitten to the shelter but hoped that we could integrate the kitten into our home.

The kitten is fine with dogs. The kitten is fine with young children carrying her around all day. The kitten is also fine with people. I figured she would be ok in our home with a bit of time adjusting to Catzilla, Yoshi and o.OWafflesO.o.

I asked if they had a cat carrier and the answer was no but I was handed a cardboard apple box. I proceeded to punch holes in the box, please note, always create air holes in the box before the animal is in said box. After a short search the kitten was located and placed in the box. I was also given her litter box, a big container of litter, her food bowl and a couple toys.

As soon as the kitten was loaded in the car she erupted out of her container, Jonette got into the back seat with the kitten and we left for the hour and a half drive home. I had not gone more than 2 miles before the kitty crawled over my shoulder and into my lap where she started furiously licking my hand and arm. Jonette had me pull over and she got into the front seat to care for the kitten. The kitten moved over to Jonette’s lap where she proceeded to pant, lick and drool all over her for the entire trip home.

I had to stop at a gas station to get water for the kitty. She ignored the water and continued to drool furiously. I should have known that things were going to good. Jonette has the kitten in her arms and as soon as we open the door to our home…

Kitty instantly flies into a screaming, hissing, yowling, and growling feral rage. The other cats stood there with their eyes wide open. “What the hell is that!?!?!” Waffles evaporated and was not seen for an hour. Yoshi slunk around the house in combat cat mode for the next 15 minutes. Catzilla was “you are going to feed me right?” We got the little ball of rage into the spare bedroom with some gooshy food, water and her litter box. Jonette and I proceeded to pile pillows and blankets against the door. Demon kitten took post under a table in the spare bedroom and refused to touch the food, water, or her litter box.

I have introduced cats before but I have never seen a reaction so violent.

Jonette decided to spend the night with demon kitty. She went into the room and piled more blankets and pillows inside the door; I replaced the barricade on the outside and prayed for her safety. I woke up in the morning, checked on Jonette. She reported that the kitten spent the night curled up next to her growling and licking Jonette’s hand and arm. The kitten had still not eaten any food, drank any water or used her litter box. The kitten also refused to leave the bed.

Knowing that Jonette and the kitten were ok I jumped in the shower. Jonette showed up, bombed the oval office and headed back to the spare bedroom. I hear her scream “NO” followed by more feline screeching and yowling. I watch Yoshi dive under the bed so I jump from the shower and into the hallway. I see that Jonette has cornered the demon kitty on the stairs. Waffles is nowhere to be seen and Zilla is also on the stairs just looking at them both. I reach down and lightly scruff the kitten as Jonette runs to get a cat carrier. I force the kitten in the carrier and when Jonette tries to latch the cage, the kitten tries to maul her. I tell her to grab a glove and I will lock the cage.

I put the demon kitty back in the spare bedroom but I do not let that yowling ball of terror out of the carrier. This is not going to work. I have integrated scared cats but this little girl was batshit frightened. 2 of our cats were frightened, I think Catzilla is just not smart enough to be scared, he just wanted his food.

Demon kitty is no longer in the spare bedroom; the rescue place will find someone to properly socialize her. She is a young kitty so she will find a good home without the need for an old priest and a young priest.

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Exploding Cats

I am a cat person. I love cats and have lived with many of them. I currently have 3 cats and have lived with a total of 7 in my life. I have loved them all even Jonette’s old cat Chaucer. Chaucer hated me and even tried to kill me once but that is not what I am discussing here. Most of my cats have been well cats. Take Catzilla for instance is big and fluffy and is always big and fluffy. Cinnamon was a small cat and she was always small.

o.OWafflesO.o today displayed a unique ability that only one other cat in my life has shown. Most of the time she is a smallish cat but this morning she looked humongous. Not just fat, even though she is over eating, her general size was massive. I am sure when I get home she will be back to her normal kitten stature. I know this because Naboo would also seem to expand and contract. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to her changes in size and it was not due to fright or aggression. Cats can make themselves look bigger by fluffing out their fur. This was something completely different. She walks out of the room a normal sized cat and walks back in 10 minutes later and she is the size of a mountain lion.

I would like to put it down to an over active imagination but if that is the case why only certain cats? It is not just small cats either; Cinnamon was small and stayed small. Only Naboo and now o.OWafflesO.o are expanding and contracting kitties. Igamu, she was a standard sized cat and she never looked bigger than normal.

I can’t be the only one out there with exploding cats… can I? am I just losing my mind?

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Commandments Of Tech Support

 

Calling tech support can be a frustrating experience. I know the pain of speaking with someone reading from a script. I believe that companies should care enough about their customers to have trained and, as much as I hate this word, empowered technical support. I have spent over 10 years helping customers. Although I have many stories, this is not a blog post containing complaints about stupid customers. There are more than enough Customers suck posts floating around. I am writing this post to help you, yes you the frustrated caller who needs help with a malfunctioning program or pc. I want to help you get the problem solved as quickly and painlessly as possible assuming of course you get a tech who is well trained and given the freedom to solve the problem and is not just a cash revenue generator who is paid by the call.

I present to you the COMMANDMENTS err suggestions before calling tech support.

 

  1. Thou Shalt restart the failing program before calling tech support!

    The reason for this is that many errors are random, there are many times where the problem is temporary or a bad memory call. No one can determine how or why it happens but it does and a simple program restart can fix many errors.

     

OK so you have restarted the program and the error occurs again.

  1. Thou shalt restart the computer before calling tech support!

    Sometimes the error is not in the program but could be in the operating system of the pc. Once again the problem can be memory read/write errors or the pc has just been running for too long. A restart is a great thing, think of it as changing the oil in your car or cleaning out the fridge from time to time. I usually tell people to restart their pc once a week. Yes I do not follow my own advice but when things start getting flaky that is my go to maneuver. It is amazing what can be cured with a restart.

     

OK so you have restarted the pc, fired up the program and the error is still there.

  1. Thou shalt not start randomly mashing buttons trying to fix the problem!

    Yes it is frustrating but if you start mashing buttons you can cause even more problems and no tech support person in the universe will be able to untangle what has just happened.

     

     

  2. Thou shalt write down the error message before calling tech support!

    Every tech support person will ask about the error message. Sometimes the error message contains useful information. Other times error messages are aggravatingly generic but even a generic “oops something went wrong” message can quickly guide a competent support tech right to the issue and the fix.

     

Ok the error message is an “Oops something went wrong” type, what next.

  1. Thou shalt answer the questions being asked by the support tech!

    The error message contains no useful information, that happens relax. The tech will start asking questions, answer then to the best of your ability. We are not trying to be jerks at this stage and the answer to a very odd question can provide a clue or a complete answer to the problem. Try to be as specific, open, and honest as possible. If you were surfing porn and got a virus, let us know because we are not going to report you to the authorities and if you were and porn surfing caused the problem we are going to find out. Just get it over with.

     

     

  2. Thou shalt follow instructions to the best of your ability.

    This blends in with number 5. Once again tech support is not trying to jerk you around. It is now time to try and figure out exactly what happened or is happening. If a tech offers to remote connect into your PC, let them do it. No they are not interested in stealing your data. Tech support is more familiar with the program than any caller ever will be, just by looking at the screen or program settings they can find the answer. On the plus side you can just sit back and watch them work. Remote connection is the greatest tool that any support technician can use, let them use it. Everybody wins.

     

 

  1. Thou shalt not blame the tech support person for the problem.

    The person on the other end of the phone is most likely just tech support. They did not program, test, and build the software or hardware that is malfunctioning. It is their job is to fix the problem not create one. As an aside the person you are speaking to is just that… a person a human being with all the greatness and flaws that we all have. Remember no one is perfect

 

Ok enough with the commandments but I do have some parting thoughts. You and the support tech will work best as a team; by working together the problem will be solved quicker. Being demanding or antagonistic will not accelerate the process in any way, in fact it will slow everything down to a crawl. Also realize that sometimes there is no answer, no definitive explanation, and sometimes there is not a fix and you might be required to reinstall the program. Other times it may not be possible to save your work, it can “just be gone” Once again I must state the support tech did not cause the error or intend to delete your data. Support personnel who do not want to help do not last long in the business.

 

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Images from Tech Support

I must confess that I stole this idea from a tumblr site dedicated to coders.  It is hysterical but I think it has its place in the field of tech support.  I hope you all get a few good laughs.

“Hi I just received a username and password and I am having trouble using it to log into a third party program.

Nope can’t help you… sorry

It is time to update the software.  Image of customer right before they call me.

please let this work

Hey I am calling because this is….. hey wait it is working now! never mind have a good day!

OOOH YEA!

Hey I was cleaning out my hard drive and was looking in the system 32 folder.  I saw lots of files I did not recognise so I just started deleting them, my pc blue screened and it will not boot anymore.

You did what?

I just unplugged my modem, and now I cannot connect to your software.

face palm

The first call comes in when the data link between the server farms in New York and Chicago go down.

I got it! I got it! I got it!… OH SHIT!!!!!!!!!!

When I have to call a co-worker becuase I have a mental train wreck and can’t remember a simple fix.

WHAT WRONG WITCHU!!!!!!!!

“Hello my name is David Brown Eyes with tech support how may I help you today?” “Brown Eyes that is a great name… are your eyes really brown?”

HA HA HA ha ha ummmm

I fix the problem that has been floating around for a month.

GO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

The 14th attempt, just like the 10th 11th 12th and 13th attempt to fix the problem fails to work.

NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo

Hey man I think you were the one I was talking to 3 months ago about…….

Ummm who are you? what do you want?

Co-worker has a mental train wreck and can’t remember a simple fix.

dude really?

Hey guess what?  IT’S TIME FOR CALL REVEIWS!!!!!!!!!

yikes… just yikes

DUDE EVERYTHING IS MESSED UP!  I NEED THIS FIXED RIGHT NOW OR MY LIFE IS OVER!!!!!!!  and I fix it.

3… 2…. 1….

The rest of the csp team went to lunch or is at a meeting and then….

boom boom boom boom

It is 3:59 on Friday evening and the phone rings….

you can’t see me!

Original concept can be found here.

http://thecodinglove.com/

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Boobies!!

Yep time to get childish, but there are times when things just get a bit weird. Let me explain. I like to take photographs of Indian dancers. You can see some of my better photos here. http://istagi.tumblr.com/ I was adding some pictures of fancy shawl dancers when a friend of mine, Liz, commented that she would like to try fancy shawl dancing. Liz is an ice skater and I feel that her cool skillz on the ice would translate to hot steps in the powwow arbor. For some reason she mentioned

“Ballet dancers don’t have boobs, boobs get in the way.”

It was at that very moment I discovered why I dislike the ballet, no boobs. This seemed valid till I realized that I am not a big fan of opera either and big boobs are not only allowed but encouraged on female opera singers. I thought that would be the end of it.

 

Flash forward a week or so

 

Jonette and I are watching The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has just absconded with the entire Moscow Ballet and they are all on a boat getting sun tans. Jonette turns to me and says…

Ballet dancers don’t have boobs, boobs get in the way.

I have no idea how or why this happens, but it does and it makes life much more fun.

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