1995, A Look Back

With the December spending spree about to cause Christmas, and another year almost shot to hell, I thought it would be a good time to look back on 1995 in rec.juggling, consider our triumphs and failures, and hope to hell we can do better in the few months we have left before the comet hits.

1995 in rec.juggling began with a bang when it was announced that the stability and difficulty of juggling patterns could be modeled by using partial differential equations on certain curved manifolds in n dimensional space, where n is the number of objects being juggled. Within weeks, the tool of choice for the mathematical analysis of juggling had changed from site swap theory to catastrophe theory. The closed from solution to the equations describing an n ball cascade enabled us to give a definitive answer for the first time to the question: "How much harder is five balls." Instead of waving our hands and muttering platitudes like "It all depends how much you practice", we can now state that the difficulty of an n ball cascade is given by the formula

D = G.s.B [ e ^ ( pi.n/h ) ] / c^2

where D is the difficulty, G is the acceleration due to gravity, s is the standard deviation of the heights of the throws, e is 2.718281828459... pi is 3.145926535..., n is the number of balls, h is the number of hands, c is the speed of light and B[] is the Boppo function. Surely the world is a better place now we know this.

I forget who first cross posted from rec.kites the complaints about juggling props turning up in kite shops. Certainly they could not have anticipated the bitter feelings that the flame war aroused on both sides, nor the damage caused in the subsequent rioting. Happily, all three kite shops that were burned out have now reopened, though one of them still displays that obnoxious sign, "Jugglers will be shot on sight."

This past spring, of course, my .sig file gave birth to a bouncing baby full stop. (This is one case where I won't be using the US term!) Salberg's .sig is still refusing to pay child support until parentage can be established by microcode tests. The Salbergs themselves had a happy event this year. I hear that young Sigmund is currently teething on the handle of a bullwhip and will be posting any day now.

The IJA Convention in Vegas was a great success. One high point was the rec.juggling party with it's Jugglers vs. Clowns pie fight. Albert Lucas blew everyone away in the numbers competition with his rock solid ten club pattern. Sadly, some members of the general public who went along to the public show left in disgust during the intermission when they discovered that the show had no bare breasted women.

The IJA board left it until after the convention to announce the final termination of the life members program. Life members were offered a choice of getting their money back or final termination. Much to the disappointment of the board, I turned down this opportunity for a brief relationship with the pointed end of an uncharacteristically sharp juggling machete, and took the money instead.

Fall saw the contact juggling flame war, happily down to an annual event now. We were all suprized when Michael Moschen delurked to comment that real contact jugglers use real crystal balls, and that using an acrylic ball is like having sex with a blow up doll. Remarkably enough several people were convinced by his argument, so that now Greg Cohen is refusing to sell acrylic balls, and I am looking to buy one.

Things have been pretty quiet since the news about the comet, apart, of course from the 'juggling on a moving comet' thread. Anyhow happy midwinter festival to everyone and best wishes for a prosperous new four months.

Andrew Conway, December 1994