New Juggling Balls!

Hey, the ugly juggler just got a new set of juggling balls! And you’ll be thrilled to know my juggling is just as ugly as ever.

I know next to nothing about juggling except what I’ve learned in the last month or so. The Zeekio balls weigh 110 grams (almost 4 oz) each and they’re 62 mm (2.4 cm) in diameter. They have substance to them.

They’re very different from my first set, which came in a box along with a manual for how to learn juggling. I bought that kit on a whim at Barnes and Nobles in mid-October. The balls started leaking their innards in November and they were small. I made do with decorator balls that I think are made of latex, filled with some kind of liquid which leaked. They stuck to my hands and to each other. One of them has shrunk in size. They’re not real juggling balls.

But the Zeekio balls are real and an early Christmas gift from Sena. They make a satisfying thud when they hit the floor or my head. That’s how I know they’re high quality.

Practicing for the Behind the Back Juggling Trick

I’ve been practicing for a juggling trick, the behind the back throw. For me, it’s harder than any other trick so far.

And to be clear, I’m not talking about juggling the full cascade entirely behind my back—that’s for the pros. I’m just trying to toss one ball behind my back while juggling the 3-ball cascade.

First, the Learn to Juggle manual says try just tossing one ball behind your back. That’s actually not so hard to pick up on.

Then the manual instructs the learner to try a 2-ball practice trick. With two balls, one in each hand, you toss the trick ball first (in my YouTube video, the trick ball is yellow) behind the back, then a split second later, toss the 2nd ball up. You’re supposed to catch both, of course, which I finally got the hang of—sort of.

The next step is to try the variation of the 2-ball practice, which is to throw one ball before you toss the trick ball and catch both.

I’m still working on the variation.

Both are important parts of the whole thing, which is to toss one ball behind your back while incorporating it into the 3-ball cascade.

I’m dropping balls all over the place. I even got a bruise on my right wrist from a dropped ball. I think one of the keys to this trick is getting my hand back into place super-fast after tossing it behind my back.

Earth Shaking Announcements!

I have announcements that you don’t want to miss! We got our Sasquatch cribbage board and it is gorgeous. We hope to have a YouTube video of us playing a game in a day or two.

The Amaryllis Star of Holland continues to open, almost before our eyes. It’ll probably be in full bloom before Christmas.

I have been working so hard on my juggling practice, trying to get so I can do a behind the back throw—I got a bruise on my right wrist without even realizing it. I must have got smacked by the ball. More on the agony and the steady but slow progress coming soon!

Updates on Amaryllis and Ugly Juggling

The Amaryllis Star of Holland opens up a little more each day. It may open before Christmas.

I make do with the sticky juggling balls. They’re easily squishable and tacky enough to pick up the little granules my original juggling balls were stuffed with. Evidently, the vacuum cleaner couldn’t get them all.

In the process of shopping for new juggling balls, we’re learning new things. I had what are called 4 panel balls, meaning they were covered by fake leather panels secured with thread at the seams—which turned out to be not very durable.

But they can have 6 or even 12 panels. I guess the idea is that the more panels, the less likely the seams will get smacked and break on impact with various objects, such as my glasses, computer, window shades, and whatnot.

The impact factor of dropped balls are pretty important right now because I’m still a beginner. You can buy one acrylic ball for $26. They’re virtually unbreakable, so they can probably last for years—unless I use them.

Some juggling balls are filled with millet, which is bird seed. I’m ambivalent about juggling balls which could spread food all over when I break them.

I’m busy trying to learn how to do a new juggling trick, which is to throw one behind your back as you do the 3-ball cascade. I’m struggling to get the hang of it. You’d think it would be about the same level of difficulty as the under the leg throw trick, which I can do (in a very ugly way, of course). It’s much harder.

There are lot of jugglers out there on YouTube who are really great teachers. You can tell right away which ones are just trying to dazzle you. Sena found a website called Renegade Juggling. There’s a chart showing how your hand size relates to the size balls appropriate for you. I’m sticking with 62mm diameter balls, since they’re supposedly right for somebody with 7-inch hands from wrist to fingertips.

Old and Busted Juggling Balls

As you may know, I started juggling in mid-October. The Learn to Juggle kit came with 3 balls. After practicing for over a month and a half, they are old and busted.

The seams are splitting and the granules are flying out, as they smack my hands or hit the floor, computer, walls, and other objects. I hope I got most of them vacuumed up.

The old and busted juggling balls are retired now. For now, I practice with sticky ornamental balls that are not meant for juggling, but which will serve in a pinch.

More Ugly Juggling!

I know you’ve been waiting for more ugly juggling and I’ve got it for you right here. I have been struggling with doing the under the leg toss trick and the reverse cascade as well for days.

Both are extremely ugly, but I’m giving myself credit because I’m a geezer past his mid-sixties who just started juggling in mid-October.

I generally tend to practice in my office where my computer and webcam are. It’s not unusual for me to drop a ball or two on the keyboard. Sometimes when I do that, a couple of extraterrestrials materialize and try to sell me real estate somewhere on the outer rings of Saturn. I don’t worry about them because I just accidentally hit the keys again by dropping another juggling ball on the keyboard and they dematerialize.

I thought I would never get the under the leg trick. I have watched that trick done by several pro jugglers who make YouTubes out of their skills and try to teach others. What often happens is that I keep trying and fail so much that I just figure I’ll never get the hang of something.

And then one day, I just start doing a trick more often than I fail. I keep at it until I complete it more than I miss. That’s how it was with the under the leg.

Don’t get me wrong. My under the leg juggling trick is really ugly. But it’s my kind of ugly.

One of the key things for me is getting my right leg up just before I throw the ball under it. This is vital, because if I don’t stand on my left leg long enough to stick with the cascade pattern, I end up flinging the ball into the computer, the wall, or on my head.

Another key factor is to throw the third ball up high enough so that I have time to pitch the under my leg and also throw that one high enough to get back in the cascade. I start my count out loud when I throw the third ball. It’s hard to believe how much more focused I get when I count the throws out loud.

I can’t throw them so high they bounce off the ceiling. They just have to be high enough to get back into the cascade.

I really think my practicing the one leg stand on both legs (one minute on both the right and left legs) for the last few months has helped me get into shape to do the under the leg trick.

In my ugly juggling video, I made one clip of the under the leg throw in slow motion.

The reverse cascade is another trick I am struggling to learn. My reverse cascade sequences are very, very short. That’s about all I can say about it so far.

But they might get better.

Ugly Juggling Tricks Now!

I’m learning juggling tricks. Uglier than ever, lucky for you! The 1 UP 2 UP is really tough to do. You have to toss up one ball and immediately toss up the other two while the one is hurtling back down like a meteor.

As usual, I’m reeling, rocking, and rolling all over the place.

The half shower is throwing one ball over the other two in one direction. That changes to jugglers’ tennis when you send one ball both ways. If you use a ball that’s a different color than the other two, it looks like tennis.

I have only one set of non-juggler balls with one yellow ball. They stick to each other and to my hands, so they’re hard to control.

But I do have a dryer ball.

Going for the Juggler Gold Trophy!

I’ve been working on my juggling form—and it’s only somewhat improved, but I’m getting 30 throws (good for the personal Gold Trophy milestone) without dropping more consistently just since yesterday.

I’ve got about a dozen video clips with me getting at least 30 throws, one with 36 although I’m weaving, lunging, rearing, rocking and rolling all over the room, nearly crashing into the computer. You can read my lips to see I’m counting in the video.

I’m hoping that getting to my Juggling Gold Trophy milestone will help make it easier to do tricks.

Taming the Juggling Balls

As of November 7, 2022 it has been 22 days since I purchased the Learn to Juggle kit from Barnes and Noble. So far, my learning experience reminds me of a story by Mark Twain, “Taming the Bicycle,” which was published posthumously—obviously after he succumbed from his injuries in the attempt to ride the high-wheeled bicycle in the early 1880s.

Just kidding of course, about his death from the bicycle riding adventure. He did mention using about a barrel of something called Pond’s Extract, which was a liniment for scrapes and other wounds.

Twain was writing about learning something new—a thing all of us are called on to do many times in our lives. He didn’t try to learn to ride the bicycle until he was over 50 years old.

I didn’t try to learn how to juggle until was well past my mid-sixties. How do you account for decisions to embark on new hobbies, adventures, and other nonsense at an age when most people would be content vegetating on the porch or in front of the TV?

I just answered the question, in case you didn’t notice.

Anyway, I am making some progress as juggling, although it’s uneven. It’s hard to believe, but sometimes I think I juggle better as I wander around. I think it might be because there is a natural tendency to throw the balls away from you. That way, I look more adept simply because I’m making a frequently observed beginner’s mistake. But I seem to be steadier even when I walk backward a few paces.

 When I stand firmly in one place and attempt to juggle, I can often barely make it past half a dozen throws. Wandering a little, I have made thirty throws.

But then, randomly, the opposite occurs and the theory fails.

Counting the number of each throw seems to help—occasionally. I also notice that unscheduled, short practice episodes for 10 minutes or less work better than struggling along for a half hour or so at set times.

I don’t dread the practice sessions; in fact, I have a sort of itch to juggle at various times during the day. Sometimes I believe I do it to help me collect my thoughts, to keep my hands occupied, or just to pass the time.

I remember learning to ride the bicycle for the first time when I was a kid. I fell down a lot, just like Twain did—until I got the hang of it. Maybe juggling will turn out to be the same.

But I won’t need Pond’s Extract for juggling mistakes—as long as I don’t try juggling while climbing or descending stairs.

Blood Moon of November 2022 in the Books

Well, it was cold rousting out of bed into the freezing temperatures to get an eyeful of the total lunar eclipse, otherwise known as a blood moon.

Sena still asks me questions about the whole event, including “And why can’t we see Earth?” She told me I could share that.

I was so keyed up about it I didn’t get hardly a wink of sleep. I wasn’t planning to see the whole thing, but since I was awake most of the night anyway, I got up at 2:00 AM and set up cameras out on the deck.

It was a spectacular view (although I admit you can hardly tell that from my pictures). Like I did for the last blood moon in May this year, I took shots with both my Nikon D3400 and Canon Powershot SX610 HS. I tried both on the tripod. I barely know anything about cameras. I just press the shutter button for the most part and hope for the best.

There were a lot of planes out last night in the general vicinity of the moon. I suspect the pilots were checking out the eclipse. I didn’t see any UFOs, but a couple of deer (or a huge buck, it was hard to see because it was so dark) crossed our yard.

I thought it was cold in May, but this morning I had to drag out my winter coat, hat, gloves, and considered building a fire on the deck, but I decided against it.

This event was special for a different reason. I took my first ever selfies with my 7-year-old smartphone. There’s a first time for everything, including tin foil hats.

You should protect yourself with a tin foil hat when you’re watching the sky. You never know what the extraterrestrials are up to, especially during a total lunar eclipse.

Seeing the stars and planets sometimes makes me want to juggle, an urge against which tin foil hats are ineffective.

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