I am a good cyclist. I follow the rules. I signal. I wait my turn. I use the correct lanes and stay as close to the curb as I can. I don’t suddenly decide I’m a pedestrian and hop on the sidewalk or run a light. I don’t dart through traffic.

The thing is, Drivers, that if you want me to behave like a vehicle, you have to treat me like a vehicle. Respect my right of way at roundabouts and four way stops. Do not turn into me at T-intersections if I am going straight. Make room for me when I signal. Do not, under any circumstances, turn outside of me when I’m turning through an intersection, and check that I’m not by the curb when you turn left (or right, in North America). Stop assuming that because I’m small I can fit anywhere; if you turn into me – especially if you are a bus – you WILL crush every bone in my body. And if you don’t want me darting between cars, then don’t make me dart to avoid being hit by you.

Remember: I am infinitely more breakable than you are, and you are infinitely more liable.

It scares me because you’re alone. And you’re deciding what to do. And people are staring at you.

It also scares me because of how good people can get at this thing that’s bloody difficult.

Ack!

I’ve been looking at some of the solo videos on hamfats.ca, one of my favourite dance blogs run by one of my first blues teachers. Man, are those guys good! I love the way they move, but also how creative they are, and how you can see them using all of their other styles to inform their blues dancing. So good.

Solo dancing is something I really, really want to get good at. And while for the past few years I haven’t wanted to touch it with a ten foot pole (much like learning to lead), I think I’ve gotten to the point where I have to learn it in order to become a better dancer. And, let’s face it, as much as it scares me, it is amazingly fun – or so I’ve learned from clandestine kitchen dance sessions (blues dancing gets a lot more exciting when it involves ducking out of your housemate’s sightline). So it’s getting added to my already mile-long list of New Years’ resolutions. This year, I’ll learn how to solo dance.

It’s assignment-writing time, and therefore my writing juices are flowing and I’m yearning for my blog(s), yearning to procrastinate by writing about food and coffee and blues and anything but articles I read about medieval medicine three years ago.

I don’t write nearly enough. I’ve come to the realisation that I simply cannot maintain my medieval blog during term time. I really love what I do, but after spending 8 hours of my day reading about the middle ages, the last thing I want to do when I come home is write about them.

The problem is, I feel guilty for not maintaining it, and I feel guilty for maintainig Giedd while Things Medieval lies fallow. So I simply stop writing, and do other things. I bake, I discover bits of cities I’ve never known before, but I do not write about these things.

So here is my resolution: Beginning on December 1, I will blog once a week. About anything. On either blog. But once a week something I’ve written will be sent out into the internety void.

As you are my witness.

Fin.

After two intense, almost back-to-back days of blues dancing, I took a musicality workshop yesterday at Swing Tonic in Norwich. My mind and muscles were still in blues mode. And it was awesome.

Turns out that, despite using a seemingly entirely different set of muscles, blues and swing really complement each other. Blues teaches you to have balance and core strength, to be able to turn and stop on a dime, to be smooth and deliberate in your dancing, and to use the air (that moving-through-molasses feeling) and the floor as you move – all skills that make your swing dancing more musical.

Most of all though, I think blues just forces you to pay attention to the music, and to negotiate with it. To hold on to the stretches as long as possible, to lag just a little. For me, swing has always been a little regimented – you must do a triple step, so that must take the same amount of beats no matter what the music does, right? Apparently not quite. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a swing song before; I’ve always paid attention to the beat and to my partner’s rhythm, and nothing else.

Most of all I think blues teaches you to be a dancer first, and a swing, blues, Ceroc, whatever dancer second.

Can someone explain to me why we’re still touting Ian Millar? His star horse died in the 80s, and he’s been terrible since then. He’s been in 9 olympics but won his first medal in 2008 – but only in the team event.

His past results, off CTV:

Munich 1972 – Finished sixth in team mixed jumping

Montreal 1976 – Finished fifth in team mixed jumping

Los Angeles 1984 – Finished fourth in team mixed jumping

Los Angeles 1984 – Tied for 14th in individual mixed jumping

Seoul 1988 – Finished fourth in team mixed jumping

Seoul 1988 – Finished 15th in individual mixed jumping

Barcelona 1992 – Finished ninth in team mixed jumping

Barcelona 1992 – Placed 54th in the qualifying round in individual mixed jumping

Atlanta 1996 – Finished 16th in team mixed jumping

Atlanta 1996 – Tied for 46th in the qualifying round in individual mixed jumping

Sydney 2000 – Finished ninth in team mixed jumping

Sydney 2000 – Finished 13th in individual mixed jumping

Athens 2004 – Finished 22nd in individual mixed jumping

Beijing 2008 – Won silver in team mixed jumping

Beijing 2008 – Tied for 23rd in individual mixed jumping

The man placed 54th in ’92, 16th in ’96, and 46th in ’96 again. Today, he had 4 faults in the qualifier.

Eric Lamaze, on the other hand:

Won gold in Beijing 2008

Won team silver in Beijing 2008

Won bronze at the 2010 World Championships

First Canadian equestrian athlete to win Olympic gold

And he had a clean ride today. So remind me why Ian Millar is on all the front pages?

Case in point:

Defending champion Eric Lamaze had the strongest performance for Canada as the veteran show jumper had a penalty-free round while riding Derly Chin De Muze.

Ian Millar , 65, posted the 42nd best score of the opening round. He finished with only four penalty points in his record 10th Olympic Games appearance. He rode Star Power on Saturday, which is the eighth different horse he has competed with during his renowned career.

ONLY four points??? Renowned career???? What on earth is in your cool-aid, Canada?

A couple weeks ago I managed to get away from this English “summer” , and run off to the beaches of sunny Basque Country (which, as many posters will inform you, is NEITHER SPAIN NOR FRANCE!!!) to stay with my friend M and her lovely Auntie in San Sebastian/Donostia and Zarautz.

It was sunny and 30 degrees every day. And I’ve got the sunburn to prove it.

We spent most of the day lounging around on the beach and eating delicious food. The national dish in Basque country is Pintxos (pronounced peen-chohs or, if you are my other friend M, Pinchlaghghghg). They are loosely based on open-faced sandwiches, meaning that they have to involve bread or crackers, somewhere. Usually. We had some in the main square in San Sebastian:

That’s deep-fried, breaded shrimp (basically European tempura. Yum!), and smoked salmon and crab salad on a slice of baguette. We shared them with a beer for M, and a Sangria for me.

Pintxos are bar food, and every bar you go into in Basque country has counters covered in platters of different kinds of Pintxos. Traditionally you start in one place, get a couple Pintxos and a drink, and then move on to another bar, eat some more of them and get another drink, etc. Locals can help themselves to whatever sandwiches they want, and then tell the barman how many they ate, while Tourists get a plate to load up.

After the breaded shrimp place we went over to a more gourmet bar (basically the Basque equivalent of a Gastropub). I was too busy eating to take pictures, but they had truly amazing and creative ones, like a giant slab of brie on Melba toast, with half a slice of liver pate on top. Delicious. On a later night we went back to this place and had a baguette slice with a sphere of something soft and cream-cheese-like sprinkled with cinnamon. We never did figure out what it was, but it was delicious, if slightly too rich and creamy to handle.

We spent the second and third days lying on the beach in Zarautz, and made our own lunch: Spanish cheese, baguette (purchased at a bakery around the corner), olives, and chorizo. So good, and perfect for the hot weather.

The entire beach front in this town is lined with restaurants, which serve their food on an outdoor patio. These are aimed at tourists, so the food was not great, but super cheap. For 10 € we got a three course meal, a pint (or the local equivalent) of beer for M, and a giant (about 2.5 pints) bottle of Basque cider for me. Basque cider is closest to cloudy cider here, and is traditionally poured into the glass from a great height. Not my favourite, and needless to say I did /not/ finish the whole bottle.

The food also came with a stunning view, and a random performance by a Basque rock band.

Being here you could really see (and taste) the distinctiveness of Basque culture. Of course, calls for Basque independence were everywhere, especially on the last night when we stumbled into a Basque celebration (read: massive street party) in honour of the Virgin Mary, called Karmengo Jaiak.