Sunburst Races Inspirational Images

Goal: Create cool, fun, and inspirational images for Sunburst Races.
Design: Edgar Diaz
Tools: Photoshop, Illustrator

Food For Thought

Photo Credit: The Inadvertent Gardener

Once upon a time, I bragged that my wife and I could go a month without going grocery shopping, simply by eating out of our cupboard. I was wrong.

Eating Our Way Out Of Debt

My wife and I are dedicated to getting out of debt. Four weeks ago, we were looking at our debt snowball budget and realized that if we really cut back on spending, we could hit a major debt target sooner than planned. We budget pretty tightly as it is, but we did find one place we could cut: food.

When we started our Dave Ramsey program in July/August 2011, we were spending $120 per week on groceries. By the end of 2011 we were spending under $60. By mid-year 2012, we were spending under $50 a week.

Even with all that trimming, we had a full cupboard. I love cooking, and by extension, I love shopping for ingredients to cook with. So almost 1 1/2 years into our marriage, I bragged that we had stockpiled enough ingredients to feed us for a month without shopping. It was time to prove it.

No More Grocery Shopping (sort of)

So four weeks ago, Ruth and I decided that we wouldn’t shop for groceries again until our cupboard, freezer and refrigerator were bare. We gave ourselves three caveats:

  1. We could buy essentials – bread, eggs and milk.
  2. We could buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
  3. If we needed additional ingredients in order to to use something up, we could get them. For example, if we had everything for a recipe except for one crucial ingredient, we could get that ingredient.

We’ve stuck pretty closely to that rule, with few exceptions. We haven’t really needed to invoke rule #3. I love being creative in the kitchen, so cooking with only what I have on hand is an enjoyable challenge.

The Results

During the last four weeks, we went from spending an average of $47/week on groceries to an average of $14/week. That’s $132 we’ve saved from our grocery budget alone! And the funny thing about being disciplined in one area, is that it often carries over into other areas.

Since starting our “no grocery shopping” plan four weeks ago, we’ve actually managed to save more than three times that amount by saving money elsewhere too. And our cupboard and freezer are only about half empty, so we can probably make it a while longer without shopping.

My point: you can do almost anything if you set your mind to it. If you’re currently in debt, there is hope. You can get out. You can beat it. Ask me how.

Side Note

Getting down to $14/week for groceries might seem like an accomplishment, but it’s not really. For some families in our nation, that amount could be their actual weekly grocery budget. USDA data shows that in 2010, Americans spent 5.5 percent of their income eating at home (3.9 percent on food away from home).

In 2012, an average family of two living at the poverty line makes about  $15,130/yr. If they spent 5.5% of their income on food at home, that’s $832/year. Divided by 52 weeks, that’s about $16/week or $8/person for groceries. Per 2010 Census figures, 15.1% of the U.S. population (approximately 46.2 million people) lives in poverty. Sobering.

Thoughts On Networking

Networking should be about generosity. Giving of yourself, your talents and your skills to better other people. Helping others get what they want or need. Connecting people. Not selling things. Not asking for favors. Not just handing your business card out to as many people as possible, or throwing your sales pitch at everyone who so much as glances at you (you know who I’m talking about). Just my two cents.

Sunburst – Ray Quitting Project

Goal: Make a parody video involving Sunburst Ray. This was a fun project. Dan and I did it on our own (with the help of a friend of his), mostly just for kicks and to see if we could pull it off with three people and a Kodak Zi8 pocket camera.
Producer: Edgar Diaz
Script: Dan Przybyla
Filming and Editing: Edgar Diaz
Acting: Dan Przybyla, Jeff Puckett

EDIT: an updated version of this video is available here.

Places to Dance in Michiana

People frequently ask me where they can dance in the Michiana area. And by “dance” they mean ballroom, latin, swing, salsa, etc. So I decided to compile a list. If you know of any I missed, hit me up and I’ll add them.

Places to Dance in Elkhart

Elkhart YMCA 
Kim Hartman teaches American Rhythm and Smooth classes at the YMCA at 200 E. Jackson Blvd., Elkhart, IN, 46516. Not sure what their schedule is. See here for more info.

That’s Dancing Studio
Offers private dance lessons at 223 South Main in Elkhart. See their website for more info.

Places to Dance in Mishawaka

Club Sky
Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Cha Cha, some Cumbia. Friday nights from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. at 100 N Center St., Mishawaka, IN, 46544. Dress code required. See Sky Michiana for details.

DanceSport… on The Plaza
Friday night group class and practice party 8:00 to 10:30 p.m.; beginner class and practice party on Thursdays 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. Also teaches private American and International ballroom lessons. Located at 4609 Grape Rd., Mishawaka, IN, 46545. More info at their website.

Dan O’Day Dance Club
Group class and practice party on Thursdays 7:15 to 10:00 p.m. Also teaches private American and International ballroom lessons. Located at 107 East First Street, Mishawaka, IN, 46544. See their website for more info.

The Elks
Host monthly dances at 3535 E. McKinley Ave., South Bend, IN, 46615. See their website for more.

Michiana Dance
Teaches private American and International ballroom lessons. Located at 110 N. Main Street, Mishawaka, IN, 46544. See their website for more info.

Simply Swing
Hosts a swing dance the first Sunday of every month, 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.  Dances are held at the BK Club, 721 S West St,  Mishawaka, In 46544. See here for more details.

South Bend Swing Lab
Swing and Lindy Hop. Dances are 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. every Thursday through May or June for lessons; open dances will continue in some form after that. Located at the Eagles Lodge in Mishawaka. See their Facebook group for more info.

Places to Dance in South Bend

Latin Wednesdays: Weekly Dance Social. Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Cha Cha, some Cumbia. Most Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at LangLab, 1302 High St., South Bend, IN, 46601. See Dance4Life Productions for details.

Places to Dance in Fort Wayne

American Style Ballroom
Friday night group class and practice party 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Also teaches private ballroom lessons. Located at 6041 N. Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, IN, 46825 More info at their website.


Ten Ballroom Dance Types to Avoid

Every group has its odd types, and ballroom dancing is no exception. The following is a list of people to avoid, and to avoid imitating. Without further adieu, here are ten types of dancers you’re likely to run across if you spend too much time doing ballroom:

1. The Death Grip
Dancing with this person is likely to end up with you having broken or bruised hands and fingers. Never attempt to do underarm turns of any sort with this person, or you may end up with a broken wrist as well. Often found in combination with the Hanger.

2. The Hanger
This person never learned the concept of balancing or holding their own weight. A dance with this person feels more like a wrestling match with an orangutan than a dance. On the upside, having more than one dance with this person can vastly improve your upper body strength over time. Often found in combination with the Death Grip.

3. The Rock
This person’s frame is like a rock. Which is ok – you want to have a solid frame. But the Rock takes it a step further, to the point where the entire dance is like an arm wrestling match. Hopefully they will soften at some point.

4. Spaghetti Arms
The exact opposite of the Rock. Dancing with this person is like dancing with a wet noodle, hence the name. This person has never heard of the concept of a dance frame, and they’re nearly impossible to lead or follow.

5. The Know It All
Claims to know every little thing about ballroom, and spends most of the dance trying to impress you with their vast amounts of knowledge. Most of the time, their head knowledge does not translate into actual dancing ability. Closely related to the Critic and the Teacher.

6. The Teacher
Doesn’t realize you already know how to dance. Spends most of the dance telling you how to dance properly. Closely related to the Critic and the Know It All. On the upside, they are always willing to show you a new dance if you’re new. On the downside, half of what they’re teaching you is probably incorrect.

7. The Critic
Spends most of the dance telling you what you’re doing wrong. Closely related to the Teacher and the Know It All. This type combined with the Teacher type can lead to humiliating, mid-song dance lessons right in the middle of the ballroom floor.

8. The Showoff
Spends most of the dance dancing with him or herself. You might as well not be there. If this person is a Leader, he also tends to lead incredibly complicated patterns, only very poorly. When you don’t follow them due to his bad lead, he blames you. If this person is a Follower, give up all hope of leading anything. They’ll lead the dance on their own.

9. The Snob
Only dances with the best dancers. Treats a dance with someone at a lower level than them as an extremely painful exercise. Never mind that they could be using that time to practice their basic techniques.

10. The Sneaky West Coaster (or any other dance)
Not meaning to pick on West Coast with this one – it’s a beautiful dance. This person will pick you up for a cha cha or a rumba, and dance something completely different. Every. Time. And it’s not because they don’t know the dance that’s playing. It’s just that they prefer to dance their favorite dance, and that dance only – no matter what music is on.

BONUS: The Creep
Shows up at dances and spends most of the time back against a wall somewhere, just watching. When this person finally goes out on the dance floor, their hands are prone to wander to impolite places. Also known to make inappropriate comments, make weird phone calls and/or follow people to their cars. Don’t be afraid to get others involved if you come across one of these. Keep quiet, and they’ll stick around to prey on others. Expose them, and they’ll leave. If they don’t, then call the cops.

With a few exceptions (the Creep, etc.) some of these types are just a part of the natural progression of learning to dance. For example, someone may start out as a Spaghetti Arms, and then overcorrect to become the Rock, before finding a comfortable middle. The good news is that a lot of the above issues may be fixed with lessons and etiquette training. So if you read this list and recognized yourself, do something about it! There are resources everywhere that can help you.

So there you have it! Ten (plus one) ballroom dance types to avoid. Did I miss any?