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  • And Now Going With Wireless Mics

    Posted on November 5th, 2014 admin No comments

    A while back I spoke about the desire to look professional, at least by having good quality equipment.

    When I was calling the “hoedown in a cow pasture” for Trek 2014,  one of the Trek staff had a pair of good-quality wireless mics that proved very useful for teaching.  I could walk out in the middle of the group and continue to teach or call.  Because there were two mics, I was able to use one and one of the hoedown organizers had the other for announcements and information.

    Other callers, among them my mentors Jerry Jestin, Murray Few, Wayne Russell and many others, also use wireless mics, often in preference to their Hilton corded microphones.  The advantage of the latter, when used with Hilton Audio sound equipment, is that the instructor can turn down the music volume from the mic holder, instead of having to return to the stage to adjust the music.    A wireless mic lets the caller more easily “stride the stage” and move among the dancers.

    Wireless mic set

    Wireless mic set

    Although I have a wireless headset mic that I bought at my second caller school in 2010, it’s not all that comfortable and isn’t really a great mic.  I use it when I need to dance and call at the same time.

    At any rate, when I rented my Bose L1 Compact from Long & McQuade Music in Edmonton, I also checked out their selection of wireless mics and spoke to the salesman about the pros and cons of UHF vs VHF, benefits and hazards (interference, for one) of wireless mics.   Then I went to kijiji and ebay to see what I could find.  Nothing on kijiji, but lots of choices on ebay.  I chose what looked like a good unit from an importer in BC,  a two-mic UHF set with 200 channels, for $168 CAD delivery included.  The same unit, two weeks later, is now priced at $222 CAD.  Similar units at Long & McQuade were over $500.

    Tried it out in the garage and liked it; used it at my lesson on Tuesday and liked it.  I had to really dial down the bass frequencies and cut a bit of mid-range to suit the students with hearing aids (otherwise, I like it with the bass and a bit of reverb, think it sounds great!)    Only problem is that I’m used to holding my old mic in one hand and the cord in the other.  With the wireless mic, I really have to fight not to put my free hand in my pocket!20141105_192558

    Next, since it was clear that the cardboard box it came in wouldn’t survive more than a week of use, I started searching online for a case for the system.   Looked at a bunch of really pricey road boxes.  Ouch.  Then I  noticed someone selling a big old VHS video camera with a case, and it occurred to me that I had such a case sitting under my workbench in the garage.    Aha!

    A  little foam trimming with a sharp utility knife and voilà, the packing fit and now I have a 20141105_192451plastic case for the mic set that is sturdy and — in my opinion — looks  professional.

    Sometimes things just work out.

  • Football and Square Dancing

    Posted on October 25th, 2014 admin No comments

    Last Tuesday was the first lesson in our new square dance group at Devon, Alberta.  I’d rented a Bose L1 Compact to play with, and this was a good opportunity to test it out.

    To my surprise, when I turned down the music and was greeting the dancers, I could hear what sounded like a football game coming over the L1.    It was faint, and people could hear my voice fine, but they could also hear the radio.   We ignored it for the first part of the lesson, because when the music was playing, we couldn’t hear it much.

    During the lesson, I noticed that when I shut the mic off, the radio sound quit.  Aha!  At the first break, I changed to a shorter mic cord.  No more game in the background.

    I later asked the guy at Long & McQuade, where I had rented the Bose, and he said that it sometimes happened.  Could have been coming from the power in the building, and plugging into a different receptacle might have helped; could have been a cross-wired mic cord, and I could check the connections (did that when I got home, all okay); but changing the cord showed that the first cord was just the right length to be an antenna and pull in the radio signal.

    Would never have dreamed that could happen — but at least I had a spare cord and was able to fix the issue quickly and still look fairly professional.



  • On Looking Professional

    Posted on October 20th, 2014 admin No comments

    My square dance sound system was a freebie, donated by a retired caller, and I was grateful to receive it four years ago when I was just starting out.  It’s an old Hilton Micro 75A turntable/amp, celebrity porn with a stacked speaker, manufactured around 1980.

    The Hilton is still in fair shape (after I added a new needle, blew out the dust, replaced a weak capacitor, serviced the turntable, cleaned the crackly potentiometers….  Free usually comes with a price!)

    The speaker cabinet had clearly seen better days.  The corners are chipped, and somebody saw fit to install the mesh over the speakers with hot glue.  Works okay after I rewired the out-of-phase speakers, but looks like hell.   I bought some metal box ends to cover the bashed corners, which shaped it up somewhat.

    This was a great unit to learn on, and served me well for the first year.   I continued to use it as an amp even after I converted my 45 rpm records to MP3 a year later.   But even so, I’m thinking that the old equipment looks a bit crude.  It was good technology in its day, with  solid-state digital circuitry, but it’s almost forty years old.  Modern equipment is lighter and more efficient.

    Sure, a good caller with old equipment is still a good caller, and a bad caller with good equipment is still a bad caller, but an old caller with old equipment just looks dated.   There is something to be said for at least looking professional.

    A couple of callers in our area have moved to the Bose L1 Compact.  A single unit is supposed to provide sound for 100 to 150 people.   The L1C includes a woofer, a two-channel amp with presets for microphone and line/guitar, gives out a tremendous volume of sound (though my son, who is in the home theatre business, argues that Bose speakers are weak in the mid-range),  covers almost 180 degrees from a single speaker column, and is resistant to feedback even when the caller and mic stand right in front of the speakers.    And it weighs about 15 kg in two small packages.

    So I’m going to buy a little mixer and rent a couple of the Bose L1 units to use at the Trek 2014 Reunion Hoedown I’m calling on  October 25.


  • Calling, Calling, Calling

    Posted on October 19th, 2014 admin No comments

    Wow!  It’s been busy!    Last week we had 18 registered for the Intro to Square Dance in Devon.   Of those, 15 came (we heard from the other three, who unfortunately couldn’t make it).   Of that 15, I think 12 have signed up for lessons.   Check out the Meetup page or my Schedule for more information about the lessons.

    Then today, another new caller, Alan Ellis, and I took part in a Callers Without Clubs dance at SEESA from 1:00 to 4:00.  It was a good dance and a good practice that gave me a better awareness of my strengths and weaknesses and what I need to work on to improve.

  • Mixer

    Posted on October 5th, 2014 admin No comments

    Multimix8USBFX, $150 with free shipping from Axe Music

    Mixer arrived, Alesis Multimix8USBFX from Axe Music in Edmonton, $150 with free shipping.   Good deal.   Having fun playing with all the settings.  A bit disappointed in the effects, which are more limited than I expected: many of the settings sound identical.   Maybe they’ll be better with the Bose?

  • Event on Facebook

    Posted on September 27th, 2014 admin No comments

    I added an event on Facebook.  First time!

    Took me a while to find it on my page.   I’ll make it easy:  Go HERE


  • Do Us a Flavour? Ick and Meh!

    Posted on September 17th, 2014 admin No comments

    Had the opportunity to try two of Lay’s new Canadian potato chip flavors.



    First up:  Bacon Poutine.   On opening the bag, I did note a scent of bacon.   The chips do taste a bit like bacon, a bit like gravy.  Couldn’t get any sense of cheese.   They were okay, not as good as BBQ by any means.  Perhaps that’s because I found the flavours quite subtle, without the tang or bite of BBQ.   My wife ate a couple but didn’t want more.  Neither did I, really, but we’d paid for the bag, so I washed them down with rum & cola.  They weren’t all that bad, just sort of “Meh!”.



    Next in line:  Cinnamon Bun.  We both had left these sitting on the counter for a couple of days.  Neither of us really wanted to open them.  When do you eat cinnamon buns?  For breakfast, or maybe a coffee time snack.   We couldn’t quite manage the idea of having potato chips for breakfast, so finally we opened them with an afternoon coffee.  Okay, they smell of cinnamon.  So far, so good. Wife ate one, refused the rest.  I had two and didn’t want any more.  We wound up throwing the rest away.  Gotta be the worst flavor imaginable for potato chips. Ick.  I can’t believe that anybody would vote for these.  De gustibus non est disputandum, I hentai porn guess.

    After this inauspicious beginning, do we dare try the other two (jalapeno mac ‘n’ cheese and tzatziki)?

  • CANYA Calling

    Posted on September 14th, 2014 admin No comments

    Saturday night we called a hoedown for CANYA, Classis Alberta North Young Adults, at a facility south of Spruce Grove.

    This was a repeat engagement, and again a lively bunch wth about four squares (32 people) dancing on an outdoor patio.
    About a third were there last year, and requested moves from that night.  I called the ABC Basics program, again meaning to move into the A moves, but wound up doing some old-time dances including Pattycake Polka, Rip & Snort, and No-Name Contra, all of which were immensely popular.

    It was a cool night.  The dancers stayed warm because I kept them moving (and they’re hot-blooded anyway), but by the end of the night I was wearing a hoodie, a jean jacket, and a vest, and trading hands between holding the mike and warming up in a pocket.

    Several came up to thank us afterwards and say they enjoyed the dance and the variety compared to last year.  Several took brochures and business cards and said they would see about having a dance in their home church (CAN is a division of the Christian Reformed Church).

    Future gigs black porn would be nice, but watching the folks laughing and having fun sure makes it fun for us.

  • Trek II, the Hoedown Continues

    Posted on September 6th, 2014 admin No comments

    Got an email recently from the Bonnie Doon Stake, as a follow up to Trek.

    I was at the Hoe down you did for the Mormon church out near Cold Lake last month and I’m in charge of activities for the Bonnie Doon Stake.  We were wondering if you are available to come and do another Hoe Down for us on either October 24 or 25.  We will be holding this Hoe Down at our Bonnie Doon location….  Are you able to be our caller?
    Apparently there will be up to 300 mobile porn people.   The event has been booked for Oct. 25 and is on my calling calendar.
    Repeat business is a terrific compliment.
    Thank you note
  • Rogers Rewards the Sedentary

    Posted on August 21st, 2014 admin No comments

    Recently bought a smart phone.  Loving it, should have got one years ago!

    It’s with Rogers, which has a customer loyalty program that offers points for their monthly contract and other things.  Today I got an email from Rogers offering three rewards for under 1000 points:  movies, a monthly TV theme pack, and long-distance phone minutes.

    Since our contract has unlimited long-distance in Canada, that last one isn’t of great value.  As for the other rewards, thanks but no thanks.  They’re clearly oriented to couch potatoes, sluggards, stay-at-homes, and the obese-to-be.  A one-month TV pack, oh my fat butt!

    I look forward to receiving rewards for the active and energetic.  How about a pass to a local fitness center, coupons for active wear, discounts at a bike shop.

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