31 May 2006

21

"Slam the Door Gently: The Making and Unmaking of a Female Scientist" by Ruth Ann Bobrov Glater, Ph. D. (4/5)

The title of this one caught my eye as I was browsing biographies at the library. It's not what I expected, but what it is I found rather compelling (and only took me two days to read). Atypically, this autobiography is not a success story; it's a story of obstacles faced by a woman born in 1919, growing up during the Depression in a Jewish ghetto in the Bronx to immigrant parents, joining the Navy to help fight in WWII, who has a dream of performing botanical research as a university professor.

The sexism she encountered is familiar to me- not as pervasively, but enough to suck the joy out of work I once aspired to. I admire her tenacity.

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30 May 2006

29 May 2006

Marching into heat exhaustion

Each year without fail, Memorial Day makes me think of band and the parade we were forced to march in. If you're new to TTaT or missed the tale last year, it's here.

Considering it's over 80 degrees (27 C) and sunny today, I'm most thankful to be sitting here in shorts in a shady room instead of outside in a wool suit.

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26 May 2006

Bar-B-Q

Barbecue: it's a strange word. Growing up, I thought it only applied to foods prepared with barbecue sauce, but with continued exposure, even I have started to use it to refer to cookouts and grilling. Perhaps in time, I will even refer to the grill itself as a barbecue. "Throw some shrimp on the barby," eh?

Still, it seems strange that barbecuing can occur independently of the use of barbecue sauces or rubs.

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23 May 2006

Sick of volleyball and croquet?

I first encountered Design Within Reach when I passed their store in San Francisco. Most of their stock is not priced within my reach, but I still enjoy checking out their catalog, seeing what I like and what I don't.

For a mere $3998 (not including s&h, but oh hey, there's an installment plan), you too could own an All-Weather Foosball Table complete with drink holders. (Just remember to stick it in your house if you get behind on the payments.)

I don't really care for it, and I think having all the players the same color would make it harder to keep track of the ball, but it does appeal to part of me: the part that likes to play games and be outside. Make it a pool table, and I'm in.

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22 May 2006

Close call

I was in the middle of some research when I heard:

Tap, tap, tap.

Hmm, I wonder what mom or dad is doing. I scanned down the page I was on and flipped to the next. I guess it could be a door knock, but it doesn't sound like the front door. If they were trying to get my attention, they'd also call my name.

Tap, tap, tap.

Maybe it is someone knocking, but if it is the door, mom or dad would get it anyway. The garage door hasn't gone up yet.

That's when I remembered their car was parked outside, so they were probably already gone. I walked into my bathroom to peer through the 2nd story window to see if anyone was at the door. Two men were walking down the steps towards the driveway. There was still time to catch them, but they didn't look like servicemen of any kind, and I didn't recognize them.

I went to another window and saw them walking up the street. I ducked back so I wouldn't be seen and then eased forward to get a better look at them. One was a clean-cut man wearing slacks with a dark suit jacket, carrying a black briefcase. The other was a younger man wearing slacks and a grey sweater with a patterned stripe across his chest; he held a book in his left hand, a chunky black book if you know what I mean.

I resumed my research.

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19 May 2006

Rereading

I don't often reread books. It's just not something I regularly do, but lately, I've been looking to my shelves for familiarity. Books that I've read that I also own I wouldn't keep if the experience of reading it hadn't affected me in some meaningful way. Sometimes it confirms something that I know to be true; others entertain, instruct, or reassure; and some inspire.

15. Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantok (4/5)
16. Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantok (4/5)
17. The Golden Mean by Nick Bantok (4/5)

These are books I wish I'd written and drawn. I feel so disconnected from my art these days as though long ago it was vanquished and drawn from my body never to return. And yet flickers of inspiration sometimes return, not quite enough to compel me to draw or to paint but enough to make me think about it. Maybe like some of the worst demons on Charmed, some things can never truly be vanquished.

As for Bantok's Griffin & Sabine series, I wonder how these books will hold up over time as postcards and letters become more and more a thing of the past. I can only hope that they remind or reveal to people the lovely tangibility and expressiveness of a piece of hand-prepared mail.

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18 May 2006

Veronica gets to go to college

In an otherwise grim week of feeling sick, I am very happy to find that Veronica Mars has officially made the CW cut for a third season.

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Anyone else?

Maybe it's just because I'm still feeling a bit nauseated, but I think that's only exacerbating my reaction as opposed to its root cause. Namely, that disgusting new concoction advertised every five minutes by KFC. The one with mashed potatoes, corn, chicken bits, gravy, and 3 cheeses (for the love of blog, cheese!) all in one serving.

I've started turning the sound off when it comes on because it just makes me feel sicker.

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Nurture, nature, nurture- grok?

14. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (4/5)

If you've ever encountered the word "grok" on the internet and wondered about its origin, this book is it. Written over 4 decades ago, it still gives a compelling 'outsider's' view of human culture. Good stuff.

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15 May 2006

OK, I cave

Not food poisoning, just sick. Not massively so, but enough to feel totally useless. All I'm accomplishing now is driving up the price of Canada Dry stock. Blah.

14 May 2006

February's Right Foot

I've been feeling semi-ill the past couple days but wanted to put something new up for y'all (well, new to you anyway). The following piece dates back to February 2, 2002.

FEBRUARY'S RIGHT FOOT:

Struggling, rumbling. As soon as David mentioned it on Monday, my car got louder, the deliberate auditory blinders lifted. I told him the next time he prefaced a comment with, "Can I ask you something outside of work?" it better not involve me shelling out lots of cash.

Engine all week belaboured and myself attuned to the mounting distress.

The last thing I want to do on any Saturday is rise early. Saturday mornings are typically sleep interspersed with breakfast, email, and snatches of cooking shows, the Total Gym infomercial, random educational stuff, and MTV CRiBs. Quality pajama lounge time that often stretches into afternoon. But I psyched myself up and weighed down my backpack with research books to last me all day.

I made it to the shop ten minutes before it opened. First. Filled out my paperwork, needing my brakes checked too, and sat to wait as the crew pulled in.

The owner was there to open since the manager called in sick. A rather cheery fellow. As other customers filtered in, we were heralded with tales of skeet shooting and hunting. All this because he'd rather be hunting tomorrow than watching football with his wife. I tried to read, but I was tired and it was hard to concentrate.

All the 10-12 year olds he's taken this season have scored deer, but he hadn't yet. "Hardest thing to teach them is patience. ... She's a real killer. No hesitation, one shot at 90 yards. Good shooting, well of course it was, I taught her. ... jumped right in with her knife when I was showing her how to clean the carcass." Lovely.

Then he moved on to wild boar. I couldn't help myself, "I didn't realize we had wild boar around here."

The whole room, including the woman next to me, confirmed it. All righty then. Can't say I was real disappointed when the owner left to make a run to his other store. Not just due to the hunting sagas but because he obviously felt compelled to entertain us when I was prepared to just stare at the cars through the glass door.

It was only 8:45. The guy who'd looked at my car was diligently entering stuff into the computer for ages while I waited anxiously for the estimate.

Finally, he looked up. I stepped to the counter. "Looks like you're getting out this time without having to pay anything."

"YES!" My warranty didn't have a loophole and actually covered the part that was broken for the first time ever.

"If you've got 20 minutes, I've got a muffler."

Of course, it took longer than 20 minutes, but I could see why. Pulling on the tailpipe, the old muffler would barely budge. He blowtorched some bits, jiggled the whole thing, still no luck. Eventually I think he just blowtorched through the hangers. Didn't bother me though cuz the price was perfect and he said my brakes looked great to boot.

I was home and back in bed by 10, my car exuding only a gentle purr.

Since I'd already showered, I opted to hit an early matinee. Another freebie as I'd accumulated the required MovieWatcher points. The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring. For the second time from a better vantage. Even better.

Cheers, mates.

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13 May 2006

Sense of smell

Not just smell, sense of smell. It's the sense part that'll fool ya. Like right now, my brain is thinking pork chops and it's all wrong because it's popcorn. I don't even care for pork chops. Maybe it's the salt, the rain, or struggling through the anti-hurl this past day and a half.

Oh right, I didn't tell you about that. The anti-hurl: yesterday afternoon just as I was getting ready to go out, right after pulling on another layer, I suddenly felt like I was going to vomit. I peeled the extra layers off, stood in my bathroom supporting some weight with a hand on the counter, waiting. But then quite surprisingly, the nausea passed. Not completely, but enough so that I could choose, and I chose not to make myself throw up.

That seems obvious, but I suspect this was brought on by very mild food poisoning. I really should've known better because it actually crossed my mind that seafood of any sort must be the worst thing to eat past its time. Anyway, I'm still a bit queasy today-- not so much I'm reduced to saltines, but enough that ginger ale tastes perfect. Actually that sounds pretty good, maybe I'll nibble on that before I go to bed.

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11 May 2006

Mom's day's a-comin'

Honestly, I didn't think this matte configuration would be that hard to find. Oh, I did find two versions of it, but they had the worst frames ever. One had a large wood frame, fairly traditional, but painted silver. The other was what I can only imagine was an attempt at 'rustic' with a boxy rough wood frame painted a disturbing beige-green-grey, with a matte of the same color in a corrugated texture.

As for the rest of the multi-picture frames, I'm so tired of seeing squares, ovals, and openings the size of a postage stamp. Oh hubris, how you've led me to exasperation; I wrongly thought this year's Mother's Day gift would be a breeze. I'm starting to think I should just get my mom another book of Sudoku puzzles.

Or maybe I should just frame the shot that feels like the perfect gift to come from my brother; I know she loves that photo of him. Hmm...

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10 May 2006

Hallelujah!

Next Tuesday at 9PM on UPN, they are showing the first episode from season 2 of Veronica Mars- the only one I missed this season.

If you've missed the greatness that is Veronica Mars, next week is the time to jump on board. There's even time still to rent or buy season one so you'll know all the background.

Without getting spoilery for anyone who hasn't seen the final episode yet, I'll just say it completely rocked. I had a few things figured out, but there were still many surprises (which had been set up throughout the season) that I never saw coming.

The CW, are you listening? Sign those fine folks on for season THREE! I want more VERONICA MARS!!!

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The day I snap...

...I'm sure to be in a produce aisle trying to pick out tomatoes, apples, or some other fruit. It is perfectionism nearly beyond my control as I stand there noticing the most minute of flaws while other people walk up, pick three, and leave. It's like I'm a contestant on Caveat Emptor Xtreme!

If only I enjoyed gardening more; I'm much more forgiving of things I've grown myself.

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09 May 2006

Civic duty

I've voted in all the elections that have come up since I was old enough to vote, but I feel like I'm only starting to get the process now years later. I know: lame. It's not enough to vote for the person whose views most closely match my own and then leave it at that or give up if they lose. It's about representation. Obvious, right? If I don't speak up, my reps will make assumptions about what I want that may not be valid. I'm still part of a group, a district, a state, so my point of view may not be the majority, but it's still important to be heard. Informed citizenry, and all that.

The internet makes it easier to keep up with issues and to contact reps by email, but because it's so easy to email, the floods of messages they receive take longer to sort through, so they are less timely than phone calls. Did I mention how much I hate making phone calls? Right. Anyway... I forced myself to make some calls regarding Network Neutrality this afternoon, and I still have some of that stress adrenaline in my veins. I'll just have to keep up with it until calling feels like no big deal.

This reminds me of a friend from high school. Liza and I had graduated, gone off to colleges for a year or two, and were once again hanging out during the summer. It must've coincided with an election year because she was complaining about some issue or politician. When I told her she could just vote against it or for someone else, she revealed that she wasn't registered to vote and didn't plan to. I was appalled, and then I was inspired.

One of the graduation requirements at our high school was learning CPR. Why not make registering to vote mandatory for anyone over 18?

That's when Liza memorably declared, "You can make me register, but you can't make me vote."

That's when I became livid. Yet another straw on the doomed camel's back of our friendship.

When I got home, I stayed up until 2 AM writing an impassioned letter to the principal of the high school with my suggestion. He wrote back saying they would start by sending birthday cards with reminders to students turning 18.

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Contenders

I should really be working on the Mother's day photo collage that's vaguely in my head, but instead I thought I'd share some of the road not taken in regards to my new header. Some didn't read as well thumbnail-sized and some didn't fit the color scheme, but I'm still rather fond of these.
Flowers
Umbrellas
Building
Fountain
Sculpture
Curved building

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08 May 2006

Toms

I confess I'm disappointed that despite (or worse, perhaps because) of Tom Cruise's ever-increasing obsession with Scientology*, Mission Impossible: III still opened at #1 at the box office this weekend.

My Tom Cruise over-saturation has had one favorable effect though: I'm not totally sick of Tom Hanks anymore. It's not much, but at least Hanks can act.

*It's totally Cruise's right to believe in Scientology if he wants to- I'm just sick of hearing him talk about it.

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06 May 2006

TODAY is Free Comic Book Day

To find a participating store near you, check out the Free Comic Book Day site. It's just what it sounds like.

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05 May 2006

Thirteen

"They Wanted a Louder Gun" by Richard Portman (4.5/5)

If this book had a logline, it would be: Hollywood memoir meets sound text book. The writing isn't perfect, but it still gets a really high mark because what's shared is so honest. I had read it before about ten years ago. There was little I specifically recalled from it-- what I remembered was that it had moved me, and that it was something I knew I would read again some day.

I understand now why I was fuzzy on the details. When Richard worked in LA, he was a sound mixer which means he was below-the-line crew. There aren't many books about the industry written from this perspective (in fact, this book hasn't been published that I know of) because above-the-line crew, people considered to control all the creative aspects of films (actors, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers...), are better known by the public. Reading his book now, it's so clear how ill-suited my temperament is/was for that business. It was clear then, but I had to block it out because I was in grad school, investing time, money, and energy into learning filmmaking; I still had to try it for myself.

Having worked in film in LA for a few years myself, I can now say that I agree with most of his scathing commentary on the industry's inhumane treatment of below-the-line crew. I relate to much of what he experienced but without the union pay or Oscars to help balance things out.

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Speak up

I've been reading up on Network Neutrality, contacting my rep, and thought I'd share some of this post by Adam Green which explains it simply and well:
As the New York Times editorialized today:
"Net neutrality" is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. ... One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.
If Net Neutrality is gutted, Google, eBay, and YouTube either pay protection money to companies like AT&T or risk that their sites process slowly on your computer. Comcast could intentionally slow access to iTunes, steering Internet customers its own music service. And the little guy with the next big idea would be muscled out of the marketplace, relegated to the "slow lane" of the information superhighway.

This isn't just speculation -- it's already happened in places without Net Neutrality. Heck, AT&T's CEO blatantly announced, "The Internet can't be free."

That's why an Internet revolt has begun--a revolt that McCurry belittles. Folks as diverse as Craig from Craigslist, MoveOn, Gun Owners of America, Google, eBay, and Amazon are all fighting back. 350,000 people signed a petition demanding Congress preserve Internet freedom, over 2,000 blogs have rallied the public, and even some celebrities are chiming in.

Craig Fields from Gun Owners of America hit the target right-on when he said
"Whenever you see people on the far left and far right joining together about something Congress is getting ready to do, it's been my experience that what Congress is getting ready to do is basically un-American."
Be sure to take advantage of these links also supplied in Green's post:
The only way to protect Net Neutrality is for Congress to take action now, as it re-writes our nation's telecom laws. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced legislation to do this. Mike McCurry and his clients like AT&T are fighting it tooth and nail.

If you are outraged, don't just sit there. First comment below, but then take these steps:

1. SIGN a Net Neutrality petition to Congress:

2. CALL Congress now:

3. BLOG about this issue, or put our "Save the Internet" logo on your Web site:

4. MYSPACE: Add "Save the Internet" as a friend:

5. WRITE A LETTER to Congress:

6. VISIT our coalition Web site for more information, SavetheInternet.com
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04 May 2006

The novocaine audioblog

this is an audio post - click to play
(run time 1:20)

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Blue gloves

I walked through the door right at my appointment time, gave my name when the receptionist looked at me blankly, and sat down in the waiting room. Maybe this time, I won't really have to wait to go in. I should've brought a book-- I'd actually considered it-- but I don't carry a purse, and I couldn't picture what I'd do with it once I was sitting in the dentist's chair. My moleskine was in my pocket if I felt like writing, but for the moment I didn't.

Two older women were there when I arrived, strategically seated several chairs apart. I took a solitary chair on the opposite wall which blocked my view of the office clock but let me watch cars going by outside. There were magazines and pamphlets around, but the burgeoning germophobe in me wanted nothing to do with them.

I'll meditate. A few minutes later, I conceded how difficult meditating in a dentist's waiting room is when you know fillings are ahead of you. It was 70 degrees and sunny out, and I was stuck inside waiting to get my teeth drilled. On the sidewalk across the street, a middle-aged man walked by wearing hot pink garden clogs. You don't see that often here. Good for him. Barbara, one of the women also waiting, was called in. The other woman kept reading the paper. I looked at my watch and tried to remember how far ahead it was set.

I could draw something, I thought to myself, but I didn't feel like it. Instead I studied the chair Barbara had been sitting in and mentally drew it: the back, the arms, the legs, this one in front of that one, the piping around the seat cushion and finally the diamond pattern on it. I had found my meditation: diligent observation. The architecture I knew well, but I didn't usually view it from this side of the room, so I scrutinized the entryway. The building was rectangular, but the front window angles in to provide some overhead cover by the time you reach the door. It's a pretty clever design.

"Claire?"

I jumped. A woman appeared in the doorway to the inner office beside me. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

"No, that's all right. You just startled me a little bit," I said, trying to play down my initial reaction.

She lead me back to a smaller room and apologized for the wait: there had been an emergency. I lowered myself into the long reclined chair, she adjusted the head rest up and clipped a blue paper bib around my neck. "He'll be in in just a few minutes," she said. "The remote's there," she pointed, "Feel free to watch tv." She left and I looked around. I found a clock: it was 1:30. He was running a half hour late.

I turned the tv on, and clicked through the channels until I found an episode of Star Trek: DS9. After a couple of minutes, I recognized the episode and remembered how it resolved, so I shut the tv off.

A few minutes later when the dentist walked in, he also apologized, mentioning the emergency over lunch. (I wish their receptionist would mention when they are running late.) Because of it, he was only going to do one filling today.

"I was really hoping to get both done today," I said.

"Oh, is it for insurance?" he asked.

"No, I just wanted to get it over with. I really hate getting fillings."

He looked at something behind me. "Do you need to get back to somewhere any time soon?"

"No."

"Ok, we'll do both. It'll just set us back some."

If he thought that was going to make me feel guilty so I would relent, he was mistaken. He reclined my chair and held up his hands for me to see. "How do you like my blue gloves?"

"They're cool," I said half-heartedly because I didn't really care.

"Have you seen the Blue Man Group?" he asked, setting up his instruments.

"Yeah, I know them. Actually, I just flashed to-- have you ever seen the tv show Firefly?"

His eyes widened and he said, "Hands of blue, they come in two."

"Yes," I confirmed with some enthusiasm because it was obvious he had seen the show.

He was rightfully distressed by the association though, because the characters that wear blue gloves in Firefly are brutal, merciless killers. "I'm not like them," he assured me.

We talked a bit more about Firefly, and then he asked if I'd seen the new Battlestar Galactica series.

"I watched most of the second season, but I haven't seen all of the first."

"Ah," he said, "I watched the first season on DVD. They left me hanging with Ensign Ro telling Commander Adama what to do since season 2 isn't out on DVD yet."

"Right," I said, remembering last year's cliff-hanger. "You're mixing series," I pointed out.

"But you followed it anyway," he said appreciatively.

"Yeah." I knew without thinking who Ensign Ro was: a recurring character from Star Trek: TNG; it just took me a brief moment to make the connection that the Admiral from Battlestar Galactica was played by the same actress.

"She'll always be Ensign Ro to me," he concluded.

Maybe this won't be so bad after all.

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02 May 2006

The principle of the thing

For most of the film rolls I shot between 1999 and 2003, I paid extra to have the images scanned to CD. During those years, the company used a proprietary image format just enough different from .jpeg so that none of my programs will recognize them. It was always sort of dumb because their image viewer's main feature is its ability to export the images as .jpegs. (A year ago they finally ditched their proprietary format to make everyone's lives easier.)

I am currently dealing with my photo CDs in the old format. Though exporting and transferring all these files is a hassle, it's not what's bothering me right now. So far, 7 of my early CDs were not scanned at the high resolution level they were supposed to be. In essence, part of the service I paid for, I didn't get. I'm feeling blase about it though because it was so long ago, and it's not like their high res was even very high.

I think I'll go ahead and finish exporting from the rest of the discs so I can present them with a complete list of faulty CDs when I write to complain. Since it's possible to order high-res scans without a CD (the images are made available on the internet), it's fairly simple to determine how much I should get reimbursed or credited. Whether they will or not is another matter.

Why didn't I notice it before? Well, I didn't know as much about digital images then, and I wasn't storing most of them on my computer because it didn't have that much memory. I'm not in the mood for a hassle, but seven is too many to ignore: it's the principle of the thing.

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