Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah, Palin and Tall

I have yet to become particularly energized by the presidential elections which seems to be something I should be ashamed of admitting since I live in activist-central-land (Seattle). Obama never really inspired a great deal of trust in me, although I liked what he had to say. I liked Hillary a little better, but also wasn't necessarily wowed by all of her actions. Still, she is well-connected and for good or bad, would probably get some things done. McCain is just soooooo old. I mean, he's a couple years older than my dad. And my dad is not at a stage of his life where he would be successful as President of the United States of America.

Most likely, I would vote Democratic. Especially in light of McCain's role in crafting our current Iraq policy. And I would like to believe in the audacity of Barack Obama's hopes for our nation. The choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate however, struck me as a very crafty and smart move. For some reason, as soon as I heard that news yesterday, I had a gut feeling that McCain would end up winning. But hey, as I said, it is just a hunch.

Palin does seem to be a choice that will motivate people in one direction or another. Conservative Christians are delighted with the choice. Liberals are frightened by her strong religious views that result in a strong antiabortion stance and preference for teaching Creationism in schools. I don't know quite what to think of her yet except that she seems to be one of those women with superhuman abilities. You know, like Martha Stewart. (Just see the photo above for her transformation from beauty pageant runner-up to feisty "gal governor.") And although all of the buzz right now is about how "McCain chose a woman!", Bryn feels that the election will ultimately come down to race. If change is inevitable, and this race will be about whether a (half) black man or a white woman will be making political history, it will be an interesting election. (If American history repeats itself, I'd bet the white woman will be the first to break a barrier.)

I turned to Slate's XX Factor blog to find out what some smart women think about the hoopla. Hanna Rosin drew attention to Palin's source of energy: "Faith without a Doubt." She also goes on to say, "So strong is her conviction, so unwavering her faith that she could take down the whole dark army on a Monday afternoon, if only her middle one weren't running a fever. So busy is she that she never stops to contemplate the obvious contradictions: that she believes in the patriarchy but doesn't live it, that she disdains feminism while taking full advantage." Although I'm not impressed with Palin's faith-based leadership, I have to agree with Anne Applebaum that Hillary and Sarah may be signs that, "Women make progress in today's world because they are needed and wanted, not because they can successfully pass equal-rights legislation or stage a protest march." And Melinda Henneberger noted that while Palin said, "we both grew up working with our hands," in her speech announcing her position on the McCain ticket, she now sports a flawless french manicure.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

See for (almost) free!

I've been meaning to make an eye appointment soon. Might as well take advantage of my insurance to see if my prescription has changed. Also, I'm thinking of trying out contacts instead of trying to make my covered insurance amount match up with the types of frames I like to wear. Which is why an article on Slate caught my eye today.

How to get an Unbelievable, Amazing, Fantastic, Thrilling Deal on New Glasses tells about internet eyeglass shopping. And also links to which is a blog ALL about buying glasses online. Even swimming goggles.

Seeing as how the last three pairs of glasses I've bought have been wildly overpriced (mainly because of their "designer" brand names: Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Burberry) I figure maybe this year I'll get contacts with insurance and maybe even be able to afford another pair of glasses if I'm so inclined.

Hmmm, I wonder if Dollar Tree has glasses?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

my haiku resignation letter

I did something freeing today. I quit my job.

This was something that was a long time coming. I'd already submitted my resignation in May and then ended up staying after I was able to negotiate a raise. Still, I knew the raise was only a temporary fix. The issues I had with the direction the business was heading and with the working conditions weren't likely to change. It could have been worse. But it should have been much better.

After a really positive interview yesterday that culminated with a great job offer, I knew I was going to quit. I would have been a fool to turn down a position that was more conveniently located and offered me better compensation and a much nicer work environment (ergonomically and aesthetically). Further reflection and discussion with Bryn made me realize that I wanted to be finished with my current position immediately. It wasn't like I needed a positive reference from the owner, both because my skill is in high demand and because I'm planning on transitioning into a different industry in a couple years when I am finished with my degree. Plus, although the owner was always talking about "assuming positive intent," my direct dealings (with the owner) have been largely negative.

But how to do it? Well, the first time I resigned I spent a lot of time writing a thoughtfully thorough letter that detailed exactly why I was leaving that I sent directly to the owner to which I received absolutely no response. This time, instead of putting a lot of energy into it, I emailed a simple haiku:

A new job offer
that I accepted today.
I will not be back.

I figured it was simple and to the point. And how likely was it that I would be in a situation where I could quit my job with a haiku again? I titled the email "Effective Immediately" and hit the send button. The only response tonight was a voicemail from the recently hired district manager asking me to give her a call. Although I feel bad for the district manager, and for my coworkers who may have to deal with covering my shift tomorrow, it isn't enough to make me want to continue working for a person who has been disingenuous and for whom I lack respect both professionally and personally.

Stick a fork in me, I'm done!

(Note: The original first line read, "Another job offer" which has six syllables instead of five. Sadly, that was the version that I sent, which is what I get for writing and emailing it quickly without proofreading it first. What can I say? I was running on adrenaline!)

Food Coma Induction

After a day at work on Monday I called Bryn on my way home to tell him to get ready as I was going to pick him up and we were going to go out for dinner. I didn't care where, I just wanted to go somewhere we don't usually go. Well, he settled on Olive Garden so we drove down to Westfield Shoppingtown Southcenter. (I like saying the whole thing because I grew up just going to Southcenter. Hell, my first job was at Southcenter! I don't recognize the place anymore!)

Anyhow, it had been a while since I'd been to Olive Garden. I'm not knocking the place, they do a great job at what they do. Which seems to be providing sleazy (good sleazy, not disgusting) pseudo-Italian food to the masses. Preferably in Claim Jumper quantities.

I was a little disturbed at the many people I saw walking out with paper shopping bags of leftovers while we were waiting for a table. And then we turned into those people. I've never left a restaurant before with a branded paper shopping bag filled with food containers. Unless I might have been getting an order to go. Granted, I didn't have to buy or make lunch yesterday. Plus we had a late night snack too. But I definitely was in a food coma when we left. My eyes were glazed over from too many carbs. They only other time I've experienced that was when Bryn and I went to Cracker Barrel on a trip to Virginia and I chose macaroni and cheese as one of my "vegetables." Seriously. I was so out of it that I made Bryn drive us home (both times).

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Locks of Love (LOL) is a lovely nonprofit that helps provide hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss. You may be wondering why I am bringing them up.

Its simple. I cut my hair.

Yes, my long, luxurious hair has been drastically shortened. I had decided it was time. And now I may be walking down the street someday and see a child wearing some familiar hair. Today I don't regret cutting it, but I am getting used to the new haircut. It isn't bad, its just SO different from what I had gotten used to.

Photos will be forthcoming at some point. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fur Boots Dot Net

In a wild, desperate attempt to placate my soul, I was doing some online shopping this morning. Not that I actually bought anything, but sometimes it is fun to browse for things I think I need. I stumbled upon and the rest was history.

How could I withstand the allure of the Mens Injuquaq Mukluks? They include such features as:
  • Made of durable, soft suede with a plush rabbit fur overlay
  • Unique colorful beadwork on the top panel and foot
  • Strong drawstring to secure top edge with decorative rabbit fur pom-poms
  • Fleece lining and sheepskin insoles for added warmth and comfort
  • Comfortable flat heel with double-stitched black thick crepe outsole
  • Choice of colors and sizes from 4 to 12

Wouldn't they be the perfect accessory for just about any outfit?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Design for the other 90 percent.

“The majority of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10% of the world’s customers. Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90%.” —Dr. Paul Polak, International Development Enterprises

It is difficult to keep things like this in mind when we are surrounded by so many trivial things competing for our attention. I feel like I'm constantly trying to avoid advertisements from people who want nothing more from me than my money. This extends from the glossy catalogs I get in the mail, to the emails from my favorite stores informing me about sales events, to the phone calls from nonprofits, to people begging for change on the street. They all are selling me something, whether it is a product or an emotional, self-congratulatory moment of charity. I frequently have to remind myself that the troubles that plague me are rarely--if ever--life-threatening. It is difficult to escape the distracting, movie-like dramas that unfold in my daily life, but also an important thing to struggle towards.

How real is all of the fluff that I see? I just watched Moulin Rouge again tonight on DVD and while it is a great movie that I love, do I need to feel guilty for being able to escape and enjoy the sensory experience of being transported to a fantasy world for a couple of hours? I believe the answer is no. But only if I am able to separate the fantasy worlds of advertising and the entertainment industry from reality, which is becoming increasingly difficult. I struggle to maintain awareness of what I consider to be important issues in the face of sensationalistic news stories and celebrity-driven media. Doesn't it appear that we have created a pantheon of figures who are larger-than-life and who we hold to different values because of their fame and fortune?

As a future design professional, I have to keep reminding myself where my moral priorities are. If I specifically chose not to pursue graphic design in an attempt to avoid ending up churning out marketing and advertising materials, then I need to know where I want to concentrate my energy. I can do more with an interior design degree than just create aesthetically pleasing or highly functional environments. Everyone has to do work that will pay the bills, but I hope to be able to do so much more than just that. I recalled the Design For The Other 90 Percent exhibition that was up while I was interning at the Cooper-Hewitt last summer. If I combine this with the statistics I've learned about indigenous populations regarding health and well-being, I believe that I see an opportunity. If charity begins at home, then how can I work to improve living conditions for indigenous populations here in North America?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

He's Still Got It.

I just read that Elvis and Priscilla have emerged as Barbies. Yikes. But wait, it gets worse. There was a line of about 150 fans who were waiting to get the dolls during their release, "staged as part of Graceland's annual weeklong fan pilgramage to mark the anniversary of Presley's death on August 16th, 1977." And what is even more frightening? Someone actually paid $6,800 for a set of the dolls autographed by Priscilla Presley.

Granted, the money goes to "Presley Place, an apartment building in Memphis for homeless families." But I was slightly terrified to read that the woman with the winning bid had this to say: "Presley Place, where the money will go, we contribute to them every year. Also, I want that on display in my living room in a curio cabinet."

I can only wonder which current celebrities might end up with enduring fame like Elvis or Marilyn? If it turns out to be Paris Hilton, I'm going to be really pissed off.

Thrifty at Thirty?

If there's one thing I learned from my father, it is how to appreciate a good bargain. This doesn't mean I'm cheap. In the past I've paid $500 for a piece of luggage and driven a new car off the lot after paying the full sticker price. (I was young and dumb and didn't know how to haggle.) But as I've gotten older (30!), I find myself looking less and less to material things for happiness. This is a positive thing for me. I don't buy nearly as much useless crap as I used to in an attempt to keep my tiny apartment less cluttered and my bank account more solvent. Although I haven't yet achieved the desired lack-of-clutter level or solvency that I would like, it is--like everything in my life--a work in progress.

Which brings me to Dollar Tree. I spent a few days in Yakima last week and was happy to go visit family and have a few days to do whatever I wanted. The morning I caught the Greyhound bus was the same morning my paycheck had been directly deposited into my account. My bills were all paid and I had some extra money burning a hole in my bank account for the first time in quite a while. The shopping in Yakima may not be first rate, but I figured that I could find something I wanted there in three days time.

So what did I come home with? Four bags of stuff. Three from Dollar Tree and one from Goodwill. Not only did I do all of my mini-vacation shopping on a budget (unintentionally), but I actually bought someone else's castoffs.

I do really love Dollar Tree. I'm not ashamed. My three bags of things consisted of things like sponges, dish detergent, liquid hand soap, cedar blocks for the closet, a hardback book, dental floss, sandwich bags, and Skittles. My total bill was $18.31, which was less than the retail price on the book ($23.95). What thrills me about shopping at dollar stores, especially Dollar Tree, is that I can buy a bunch of household items for so very, very, very much less than I would pay at a place like, say, Fred Meyer. I would have been lucky to get out of a regular store with an array of toiletries and cleaning supplies in a single bag for twenty bucks, let alone all of the stuff I got; so I can't help but revel in the fact that I was being a bargain shopper. Thanks dad. All those years of dragging me to garage sales and scouring the newspaper for free events wore off a little bit. In fact, the receipt is sitting on the counter in the bathroom and I have no immediate plans to throw it away because when I see it, it reminds me of how much money I potentially saved. Brushing my teeth tonight was made more pleasurable because of that receipt.

The Goodwill thrift store was kind of fun too. I bought a shirt for work since I have to fit a specific color scheme and don't really want to invest much in outfits for a place I'm disenchanted with. I figured I could afford to spend four bucks to give me another option to drop into my current workplace wardrobe rotation. And I bought an unopened package of socks that was cheap because of irregularities (maybe they need Metamucil). What I find amusing about this is that the last piece of new clothing I got was a Burberry sweater the week before. It was a gift, and also from the outlet store, but the sale price was still more than I would ever spend on a sweater. This did not keep me from accepting the sweater and entering into a close, deeply meaningful relationship with it.

Am I really turning into my father? Not yet. My years of experience in the service industry (restaurants and spas) means that I know better than to leave two crumpled dollar bills on a thirty dollar tab. And I would never buy a brand new car without a stereo or air conditioning and then drive around with the windows down and a portable radio on the seat next to me (yes, he really did that). My mother was a banker's daughter who grew up with nice things. I think that some of her habits rubbed off on me too.

Madonna = Courtney Love?

It might just be me, but I was watching Madonna's Four Minutes to Save the World video on YouTube and I couldn't help but think she was looking a little bit like Courtney Love lately. Not in a bad way. Kind of like Courtney when she was a little cleaner and more glam, maybe ten years ago?

I'm not dogging on Madonna. She's going to be fifty this year and who really cares if she's had work done or not--she doesn't look like an alien (Joan Rivers), or like her face is starting to melt (Meg Ryan), or like a withered husk of her former self (Melanie Griffith). I can only hope that when I'm 49, that I will be cranking out albums and dancing in music videos with the same amount of energy that she does. (That gives me nineteen years to get in shape. No rush.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I was a little worried when I was buying my bus ticket to visit some family this past weekend, mainly due to the whole Greyhound bus decapitation that occurred last week in Canada. I'm happy to report that I was not stabbed on my journey. And I didn't stab anyone else either. The bus was pretty empty though anyhow.

The only agenda I had for my few days over here was to read The Timeless Way of Building and A Pattern Language that Bryn got me for Christmas a couple years ago. They are classic tomes of architecture and I still have yet to read them. In fact, they are sitting next to me right now and I have only carried them around the house with me, in hopes that I might read them. I was hopeful that it would happen today, but instead we went to the Yakima Cultural Museum (more on that later) and then I played Wii for a couple hours. So no, I did not expand my mental horizons today. (Anything gained from the museum visit was wiped out by watching the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance?)

And as for the museum, I don't have a lot to say except that my favorite part of it was the building itself. It was a pretty cool (and large) building. The displays weren't terrible, it just seemed like everything was a little neglected. Visible layers of dust, missing signage, broken signage, etc. There were lots of cool things though, all of it old. Furniture, carriages, machinery, neon signs, valentines, apple crate labels, geodes, photographs, etc. I'm sure ALL of the local schoolkids have to trek through this place at least once in their school careers. Probably more often.

Heading home tomorrow. Time has flown by! Maybe I can crack those books tomorrow morning?

The Infamous Horse Hat Revisited

Although I've been meaning to write something on here for the past couple of days, it still hasn't happened. Maybe later today? In the meantime, I found a couple more pics (courtesty of Jane) of people at Pilchuck actually WEARING the strange horse hat/thing that was in a box in the costume storage area. It truly is quite fabulous.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Surveys are Silly

Normally I don't get many forwarded surveys by email anymore. I just see them on MySpace or other places like that. But I did get one the other day and instead of emailing my answers to everyone I know for "fun" (which would make people hate me) I decided to answer some of the better questions here.

1) What time did you get up this morning? 8 a.m. And I didn't even use my alarm!

2) Diamonds or pearls? Uh, I'm a dude so I don't wear either very much. Pearls are my birthstone, but I don't own any. I do have two rings with diamonds in them, but I don't wear those much either. Let's just go with "pearls of wisdom" and call it even.

3) Do you sleep with stuffed animals? Up until a year ago the answer would have been no. But now I have Snugglydog (also known as Ugly Dog, an Ugly Doll). I'm regressing. I admit it.

4) Ever been involved with the police? No, I haven't dated any law enforcement officers. Although this girl I "dated" my freshman year of high school was a building security officer or something like that the last time I ran into her. Does that count?

5) What was the last thing you touched? It should be obvious that I've been answering these questions, so I'd have to go with the keyboard. And gravity keeps me pretty firmly in contact with the floor and my chair. Plus I'm wearing clothing. But if that stuff doesn't count, I'll say my coffee cup.

6) What did you want to be when you were little? I just wanted to be a grown up to get away from all of those damn kids. Incidentally, I did run across my "Kuder Occupational Interest Survey Report Form" from my sophomore year in high school (1994!) and the top two occupations that my test scores were consistent with were "Film/TV Producer/Director" and "Interior Decorator". Dammit! I'm a DESIGNER not a decorator! I also found my PSAT scores from the same year and I had "Interior Design" and "Interior Designer" down as my self-reported college major and career. I just happened to take a ten year hiatus from this path. You know, I had to "find" myself and all of that crap.

7) Last gift you received? A really good gift actually! Combining my love of hoodies and sweaters, Bryn got me a charcoal grey hooded pullover at the Burberry outlet yesterday. And if any moths even THINK about chewing a hole in it, I will kick their asses!

8) If you were a crayon, what color would you be? What the hell? For one, I wouldn't be no cheap old crayon! I'd be a fountain pen with a platinum nib! And brown ink!

9) Do you still talk to your ex-boyfriends/girlfriends? A good amount of them. I'm going to visit my ex-wife and her family next week for a few days. And I need to call my ex-boyfriend back. (Sometimes I'm bad at returning calls.)

10) How do you like your eggs? I prefer them as ingredients in things like pasta or pastries. Or in quiches, benedicts, and omelets. If forced to eat them in a purer state I order them scrambled.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Spare Some Pollen?

Did you know that the United Kingdom has 25 different species of bumblebees, three of which are extinct? I didn't think so.

Does this information make you want to help make a difference for the bumblebees of the U.K.? Then check out The Bumblebee Conservation Trust today!

(I like bumblebees. They help produce snacks that have honey or fruit as ingredients!)