Tuesday, November 25, 2008

These lies come from somewhere

Never have I watched so much CNN in my life. It started with the election, but now that the prospect of hearing the (future) president speak doesn't fill me with the same emotion as nails on chalkboard, I've been tuning in on a more regular basis.

I like the reporters a lot--they seem to have personality and aren't afraid to show it on air, be it airing their views as Republicans or Democrats or weighing in on what kind of puppy the Obama girls should get.

One thing I don't like is the tendency to have 25 'coming up next' previews before actually showing the story.  Yeah, I know all news channels do this, but CNN seems to have raised it to a high art of annoyance.

Tonight the big delayed story was all about Michelle and how she's single handedly going to remake the image of black women in America.  Funny thing is, they spent one part of the story playing every clip they could find from any movie where Eddie Murphy or Tyler Perry ever put on a dress and a fat suit, decrying the "stereotype of black women as overweight and loud," (which frankly, just reminded me of most family holidays I've ever had, but I'm not supposed to say that out loud...).

Then, right after the break, they had Faye Wattleton on talking about how Michelle works out and keeps herself together, without looking scarily and unattainably thin--which will be a great example for black women because (insert statistic about the huge percentage of black women who are overweight--no comment on whether they're loud too).

CNN, I say to you, MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY!!  Are these pernicious rumors about the supposed obesity of black women (which by the way, we certainly don't have a monopoly on), vicious stereotypes or unfortunate statistics?

I suspect, as usual in these cases, it's a little of both.  In any case, it couldn't hurt if Michelle inspires a few folks of whatever race, size or genders, to move a little more.

This morning I was on my way to school and I pulled up behind a black woman on a bicycle at the stoplight.  She was riding an old rigid mountain bike and rocking some red shorts over blue tights, super-hero style.  She had a helmet,which was a nice change from a lot of the neophyte cyclists I see every day.

Not surprisingly, when she looked back and saw me, she asked, "What's your name?"  I assumed that meant we'd met before, which it turned out we had.  She came to a beginner bike clinic for black women that a friend of mine put on.  I went and gave a few tips on commuting, riding in traffic, maintenance, etc.  And now, here she was taking to the streets.  Considering how many people I talk to who give lip service to wanting or wishing they could bike more, I was pretty thrilled. (The credit goes to Deborah for organizing the workshop!).

See, it's started already.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All About Art

I have an art quiz later today so I'm going to do a post all about art.  Who says blogging can't be productive?

Part 1: Basic Elements

Line1. Line:  The distance between two points, or the pathway of a moving point.  Line can have endless characteristics such as thin, thick, wavy, broken, implied (--  --- --- --- --- ---), psychic (line of sight), contour (the edge of a shape), calligraphic, etc.

2. Shape: A flat, 2-dimensional enclosed line.  Possessing width and height.

3. Form: Round, 3-dimensional figure, possessing width, height and depth.

Value Drawings4. Value:  Amount of lights and darks.  The upper left corner is high value, minor contrast. Top right is intermediate value, minor contrast.  Bottom left is low-minor and bottom right is high-major.

5. Texture: The surface character of a material that can be experienced through touch or the illusion of touch. Tactile texture is stuff you can touch. Simulated texture is a convincing copy or translation of an object's surface in any medium.  For this assignment, we spent time in class drawing invented textures on an outline of our hands.  Then we took various rubbings of surfaces around school and then had to use a certain number of each type of texture to create a composition.  I used bubbly, prickly, scaley, smooth invented finger textures as well as the sole of a shoe and some other things.

Texture Assignment 

6. Space: Flat, shallow or deep.  Positive space is occupied space; objects and most dominant areas.  Negative space is less dominant, unoccupied space.  One of the innovations of cubism, invented by Picasso and George Braque, was to portray more than one perspective of an object at the same time. For our assignment, we made five different viewpoint drawings of a small, interesting object on trace paper.  Then the drawings were layered and we drew a whole new shape from the intersecting drawings.  This was done three times, one a line drawing, one shaded in black and white for a flat design and one shaded to look three dimensional and give depth.  Any guesses as to what my original object was?2008_1110_004_space_drawing 

Part 2: Principles of Design

1. Balance: A sense of visual equilibrium achieved through implied weight, attention or attraction, by manipulating the elements in a composition.

Symmetrical Balance is the exact duplication of appearances in mirror-like repetition on either side of an imaginary line down the center of the composition.

Asymmetrical: A composition which is visually balanced, but does not have the same exact elements on each side.

Crater Lake-003

Approximate Symmetry: The use of similar imagery on either side of a central axis.

Crater Lake-181

Radial: Parts of a design seem to emanate toward or away from a central point.



This week's homework on balance was to take three differently balanced designs and distill the basic shapes into a non-objective design which obscures the original reference. New design did not have to have the same type of balance as the original.

Approximate Symmetry

Crater Lake-099





2. Proportion: The relationship in scale between one element and another or between a whole and one of it's parts. Proportion refers to a comparison of sizes or parts of a whole (Is the head in proportion to the body?). Scale is established when associations of size are measured relative to human dimensions. Monumental, miniature, life-sized, exaggerated and idealized.

3. Repetition/Pattern: The use of the same visual effect a number of times in the same composition.

Harmony/Unity Assignment4. Unity/Harmony: The quality of one-ness, of individual elements relating to the whole in a composition. Assignment: Make three unified designs using ONLY three circles and two lines.

5. Rhythm: A flow or sense of movement achieved by repetition of regulated visual units. Rhthym results from the perception of intervals between repeated elements.

6. Dominance/Focal point: The perceived focus of interest. Visual emphasis in a work of art is a way of calling our attention to a particular area.  Dominance--making one element the strongest (brightest color, unique shape).  Focal point: An isolated element, larger or smaller in size, contrast, having lines or paths that come together.

7. Variety: Differences achieved by the use of unexpected, opposing, contrasting, changing or diversifying elements to add interest.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I just dropped Jess off at the airport.  She's flying to Santa Fe to visit her dad for a few days.  She asked me to get her a Furkey (fake turkey) this weekend before they run out, so I stopped at the Arbor Lodge New Seasons before things got crazy.  I may have gotten a few bachelorette food items as well.  Shopping before breakfast... 

It was already getting busy when I left the store at 9:45AM. Scary.

We've been pondering all week what we're going to do for Thanksgiving.  I was not a big fan of the holidays before, and my distaste for the latter third of the year has only grown now that I'm mom-less.  Before, I didn't have think about it--I just went where mom went, ate myself silly, and took a nap.

I still have plenty of family in town, but it's complicated by the fact that, although we've been together for almost three years now, I can't take Jess to a meal with my relatives unless we bring our own vegetarian food.  Oddly, it's worse at holiday meals than just smaller get-togethers.  I've gotten used to a different style of cooking and eating since being with Jess, and even before we met, I didn't do a lot of 'traditional' black/southern style cooking. 

Even the vegetables have meat in them; ham in the collard greens, turkey stock in the dressing, bacon in the green beans...  For me, TG with the family is a nice opportunity to eat a bunch of foods that remind me of childhood (and having a mom).  For Jess, it's a frustrating exercise in the opposite of what a holiday meal should be like. 

Our friends all have plans and I was leaning towards staying home most of the day, making a dinner of dead mom favorites and having a quiet day.  Then J's friend Therese invited us up to Seattle for dinner with two friends of hers who we love.  They've been wanting her to bring us up to visit and we were thinking about it, but didn't really want to pay for a hotel. Peg & Anne-Marie figured this out and have arranged to borrow an RV from a friend.  That pretty much fixed my only reservation about the trip, so it looks like we'll be headed north.  They might even sleep in the RV and let us have their room--they like to travel and camp, and think it sounds fun. More power to 'em.  Usually Jess doesn't have enough days off around a holiday to travel, but she's off for a minimum of three weeks because of her wrist surgery so this will be a nice change. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gimpy Rides Again

I know it's bad when my grandmother complains that I haven't updated the blog.  But things have been pretty boring around here.  Doing homework. Still doing homework.  More homework.

I managed a couple of cross races and wanted to do at least one more--one that would be good and muddy in the true cross tradition.  But I was swamped with midterm projects, tests to study for etc.  I made the right choice, if grades are any indication.  Racing pretty much took up the entire day when I did it, and that was when the weather was good.  Lately the team mailing list is all about how to get the particularly nasty mud from Hillsboro to wash out. 

Aside from the time issue, there are definite risks that come with cross racing with Jess scheduled to have surgery today, I couldn't afford to get hurt.

So yeah, another go around with the wrist.  She's had a cyst that's just over a tendon running from thumb to wrist and it wasn't going away on it's own.  She was scheduled for 2:30 check in today with surgery at 3:30.  When we settled into the short stay ward, the new time was 4:30.  When the Dr came around to see us, the new time was 5:30.  About the only good thing I can say about spending six hours in the hospital where my mom died, is that the surgery is so minor and this time I got the patient home alive.  A big one for the plus side.

Also on the plus side, the staff was really nice.  Every single person we dealt with.  Jess had the good sense to ask straight away for an IV nurse to put in her line.  She doesn't have the best veins at the best of times and since she wasn't allowed to drink since the night before, they were really shriveled.  At first the nurse was offended, but then Jess let them know that she was a hard stick AND an IV nurse herself.  They were happy to let someone on the IV team draw the short straw after that.  And of course the nurse we got knew Jess--everyone knows everyone at all the hospitals.  She was friendly and chatty while she worked and got in on the second try. 

Our pre-op nurse, Christy, was awesome.  She and Jess bonded over the trials and tribulations of floor nursing, spurred on by the constant unpleasant attitude of the guy in the next bed.  We heard he was having his colon removed though, so it's not like he didn't have reason to complain.

BeforeOnce all the fluids were dripping, vitals taken and forms signed, everyone left.  Cranky guy had gone up to his surgery and there were no other patients in the ward.  I studied, snacked (not in front of Jess, since she was starving), ran to the pharmacy for the pain meds and studied some more.  Finally at 5:30, a nurse came to get her. 

We parted ways and I went to my favorite NW restaurant, Ling Garden, for my usual fried rice and egg flour soup.  I got it to go, which was a good thing because I was only back for about 15 minutes before the Dr came out to talk to me.  Yup, the whole day was about 9 parts, waiting and 1 part actual surgery.  He said that everything went well, the only surprise being that her tendon was actually torn underneath the cyst.  He put a stitch in it and said it should heal up fine.


So Jess is back to being a one-armed wonder for a few weeks and I'm back to doing all the chores and keeping us fed.  Ten days with the cast, then a brace for another 5-6 weeks.  We spent the weekend cleaning the house and our fridge is literally fuller than it's ever been with leftovers, so I shouldn't start feeling the strain till late next week.  Since this was a more controlled procedure, the pain is also a lot less.  Jess has a pretty high pain tolerance, so I'm betting the one pill she took tonight at the hospital will probably be all she needs.

Saturday she's flying off to Santa Fe to visit her dad for a few days, so I should have plenty of opportunity for wild parties and drinking catching up on my homework.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Election Day

I really wanted to title this post, "Bill Clinton Stole My Virginity," but I decided against it. I'll get to that in a bit.

A bitter sweet night on Tuesday as we finally get over ourselves enough to elect the first person of color to the highest office in the land--but three states agree that *somebody's* gotta be the n****r and it may as well be queers. You would think we could figure out by now that the old 'seperate but equal' argument is just a sham.

I think the phrase that best sums up my election season is 'mixed emotions.' My first time voting in a presidential election was for Bill Clinton in 1992. I had a mad crush on him, politically speaking, and I was totally excited to have come of age in time for vote for him. I've never been a very political person but I don't think 'giddy' is too strong a word to describe my feelings about Bill. I was old enough to hate Bush the first, and welcomed the possibility of Democrats taking back the White House.

Then, practically the first thing he does in office is implement the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy--after boldly courting gay voters with promises of actually treating us like people. I was pissed. It was like sleeping with my first boyfriend and having him turn right around and cheat on me (something Bill turned out to excel at in reality as well as metaphor).

So, while there's no denying the unbelievable relief I feel about the outcome of the election, I have never been quite as excited as it feels like I should be. Obama talks a good game and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hopeful and excited, not just about what his election represents for progress in this country, but also the fact that he actually seems to have a brain and is willing to use it to try to solve some pretty serious problems. But after the Clinton fiasco(s), I've got a few trust issues that I just can't stuff back into the box. I'll be watching to see how much of Obama's campaign was saying what he had to say to get elected, and if any of his real views come out, now that the job is his.

So that's my pessimistic, cynical, cheated on side. But there was another aspect to this day, and on Tuesday, I finally gave in to the Kool-Aid. During the campaign, I kept thinking I should go volunteer--but the thought of canvassing or making phone calls is pretty cringe-worthy. Instead I sent what sheckles I could to the campaign via MoveOn.org and their relentless, mafia-like demands for more money.

On Tuesdays I have a class about WDIM (Web Design & Interactive Media). Last week, Dan, our teacher had said we basically had a free pass to skip, if we volunteered on election day. It was just the small catalyst I needed. When I looked back on the day, regardless of the outcome, I'd rather think to myself I should've volunteered sooner rather than, why didn't I do anything?"

The campaign office was a madhouse of excitement, hope, activity and most impressively, organization. In less than 10 minutes, I had a neighborhood to canvas (turned out to be mine actually), a list of people who hadn't yet turned in their ballots, and instructions on what to say to them. I had ridden Fezzik to the office but another volunteer who couldn't do much walking had offered to drive us over. Then I spotted my friend Bria, who was also doing some last-minute, first-time volunteering. A staffer suggested if we knew each other we should go out together. So I ended up riding with Bria in her borrowed Prius over to the Mississippi neighborhood.

We spent the next two hours knocking on doors and talking to people. Everyone we actually contacted said they had turned in their ballot. Everyone was friendly. The sun was even shining when we started, though we got sprinkled on and the temperature dropped as our shift went on. When we got back to the office, we ran into yet another friend and spent some time catching up. She was contributing by holding a big sign and cheering.

As I was about to leave, a guy walked in with a big box of fried chicken. I'm pretty sure it was home made and it was hot and delicious. I haven't had chicken that good since my mom died. Finally I tore myself away and holed up in a coffee shop for the next several hours to work on a paper that was due the next day.

I'm taking a writing and argumentation class and the whole term is discussions about democracy and what consitutes the perfect society. In the last few weeks, we've read the Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and a couple of short pieces about different ideas of utopia. The reading has been great, but the timing of this paper couldn't have been worse.

"Where were you when the first black president was elected?"

"Um, writing a paper about utopia."

Yeah, it didn't sound right to me either. I compromised by working until Jess got off work. But after dinner we headed over to the Bus Project election party at Grand Central Bowling. We had to stand in line for about twenty minutes to get in, which was maddening. I didn't have an iPhone or anything, so all we had were the rumors floating around in line. People were saying it was over, that McCain had conceded, but I couldn't quite bring myself to believe it. Jess went to the pizza place half a block down to try to hear one of the news casts, while I kept our place in line. While chatting with the family in line behind me, the dad, who clearly hadn't read this article said to me, "Let me ask you something," causing all my spider senses to tingle.

"What's that?" I said, dreading the answer.

"Do you think that now Obama will go to "black" instead of saying "African American?"

I was quite proud of myself for managing to answer him civilly and without sarcasm, when what I really wanted to say was something like, "Wait, let me tap into the Great Black Hive Mind and see!"

Someone let me know that the sound was being piped outside the bowling alley. I called Jess back and we stood in the rain and watched McCain's concession speech on three big screens through the huge windows. Halfway through, we got to the head of the line and finished watching inside. It seemed to be the first time McCain actually behaved with any kind of dignity. Too bad he didn't campaign that way. There are a ton of reasons why I'm glad he didn't win, not the least of which is that I won't have to listen to his voice anymore. It's a toss up as to which resembled nails on chalkboard more, McCain or Bush.

It was great to be in a room full of ecstatic people when Obama finally came out to give his speech. I doubt there was a dry eye in the place, including mine. When my little cynical voice tried to speak, I squashed it. Now wasn't the time. Now was a time for a big schmaltzy celebration. A time to celebrate the fact that maybe now we can begin to repair our world image, as well as our devastated country.

So, in the spirit of unbridled sentimentality, I made a little video of highlights from the day, with some music that seems strangely appropriate: