Friday, November 28, 2008

Gourmet Thanksgiving Dinner

I just finished packing the trunk of our car to the brim with leftovers and kitchen supplies. Since Bryn never does anything by half-measures, he had brought almost the contents of our entire kitchen with us to Yakima on Wednesday. After our early morning multi-hour drive out here, he baked bread and brined the turkeys and did other things while I spent the day working on a school paper. Then, yesterday he and I spent the entire day in the kitchen (with assistants at various times for prepwork and cleaning) and finally got dinner served at 7pm. I got to play sous chef all afternoon/evening. I'm not even going to try and list the menu except to say that Bryn planned it all out based on flavors, everything was made from scratch, and there was a TON of food. And since most of the people we were serving had gone off of weight-loss plans for the holiday, they didn't want all of the leftovers sitting around. So I think I'm going to be eating leftovers for a week unless we can convince some friends to come over and help us!

This morning, I woke up already exhausted from the day before. Now that the car is mostly packed, all we have to do is gather our last things and drive home and unload the car and reorganize our kitchen. I'm crossing my fingers that I don't get called in to work this weekend, but having said that, I know it will be inevitable.

Still, it was a nice holiday spent with family and friends. Next year though, I am all for having Thanksgiving dinner made from prepackaged ingredients (stovetop stuffing, canned pumpkin, etc)!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fielding Calls

So far, I'm not impressed with the new WaMu. I don't know how much of it is the takeover by Chase, or how much is the whole credit crunch, but I had missed my payment date on a WaMu credit card I have at the beginning of the month and it was hit with a bunch of fees and a higher interest rate that sent it overbalance resulting in more fees. This was extremely annoying; but, I also recognized that it was my own fault for not paying attention and missing the payment deadline. What with all of the added fees, I figured I would just wait until a little later in the month and catch it up all at once.

Well, that was before I got a call from WaMu's collections department about a few days later. It wasn't just a reminder call either, it was a high-pressure, "make a payment now, or else..." type of call. Which is something I've never experienced from WaMu before, and I admit that my occasional forgetfulness has resulted in my paying a credit card bill late one or two times before. Now, I'm not proud of it, but I'll also freely admit that I've gone through a bankruptcy (after a divorce) so I've had some experience with collection agents before. The tone of this phone conversation was one I would have expected after missing two or more payments, not as a follow-up reminder less than two weeks after a single missed payment!

I was concerned that it was out of character for WaMu, plus it seemed weird that they wanted me to make a payment by phone, but then I still had to have my checkbook handy and also authorize my address. I declined that option and instead called the bank directly to see if it was a real call or not. They confirmed that it was most likely made because the account had been referred to their collections department. I responded by asking that the credit card account be closed immediately.

The drama has unfortunately continued since there was apparently some trouble with the check I mailed in that I don't understand and I've just fielded calls from them again last night and this morning. Nothing big, but I'll have to figure out what happened when I get back to town in a few days and I'm really tired of the whole thing. (Note to self: Please pay more attention to when payments are due!)

I'd moved to WaMu after Bank of America got overly corporate for me and now I'm feeling like it is time to switch banks again. Maybe I'll move my bank account from WaMu over to FirstTech Credit Union like Bryn is always trying to get me to do. I'd like to think this new direction in their collection department is Chase's influence? I mean, I understand if they are worried about their finances and such and are trying to be more aggressive with collecting outstanding debts; but exercising poor customer relations in situations like this won't help them out any in the long run.

Not that customer service really seems to mean much at most places lately anyhow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Palin Caricature Thread!

Saw a post on Progressive Alaska's blog about this and had, had, HAD to spread it further. They were linking to a thread on Democratic Underground's site collecting people's favorite Palin-related anecdotes and Photoshopped images. Great and funny stuff!

Doris Eaton Travis

The nice thing about going to the library is the opportunity for chance finds like the one I ran across today: Century Girl: 100 Years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis. The book came out in 2006 and is a fun photo-collage biography on the inside. Don't know Doris Eaton Travis? She's had quite a life! In fact, here's a video of her dancing on her 101st birthday in 2005!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fiction Mirror!?!?!

Designed by Jean-Marie Massaud, these are images of "fiction mirrors" that are made in extralight glass with degraded silver shading. Just ran across them today while looking up stuff to use in my last studio project and I think they are really fascinating! Kind of mysterious what with the reflective qualities of the silvered portion while the transparent glass sections reveal what is underneath.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Microsoft® Tinker™

I don't know exactly where this game comes from other than the fact that Microsoft makes it and it appears to be included with Windows Vista (at least the Ultimate edition). But one thing I know for sure is that it is ADDICTING! And fun. A great time-waster, and it even includes a cool robot!

Update: Yes, it seems to be exclusive to Windows Vista Ultimate.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Just watched Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" (À bout de souffle). The reason I watched it is that it was on a list of things that are supposed to represent my client for our next studio project. Not sure how to translate that movie into a space yet, but I'll mull it over.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Annie Leibovitz = Photography Goddess

Last night I went to a reading and slide presentation by Annie Leibovitz from her new book. I've loved her work ever since I was a kid and she was great in person; funny and charming. Is she a public speaker? No, not really, but for me it didn't matter at all.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sacred Path Project

Too tired to write anything of any merit today so instead I'm just posting images of the project that was due last Friday. My design was for a "Sacred Path" for the meadow at Luther Burbank Park. It was inspired by local Native American legends surrounding supernatural beings associated with geological events (like earthquakes), and also the idea of the labyrinth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Homework Update

Studio presentation went well yesterday, as did the Art History test. We got to watch Casablanca and then write about that. Since I hadn't seen Casablanca, but have been meaning to, it was perfect.

Right now I'm on break checking email. Just finished my interior design history test which I certainly didn't ace, but also didn't bomb. Considering I missed the last class and only studied for 30 minutes before class, I'll take it. Now I have to go back and turn in my hastily written research paper and give my last presentation of the week (about my research topic).

If I liked Art Deco when I decided to write about it, I'm sure ready to move on to something else at this point.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Forty-Hate Hours of Homework

It has been a WEEKEND! Spent all day Thursday finishing my Environmental Design project/presentation and did that on Friday. I was totally wiped out afterwards, but wait, there was more! We got out of class at 4pm and then I had to quickly come up with a 5-8 minute presentation about Georgia O'Keeffe (luckily, I had already gathered some research materials a few days ago) and get to the Seattle Art Museum by 5pm where our class gave individual presentations about specific works that were hanging there. That lasted until 8 and then I came home and crashed.

Saturday I started working on my Interior Studio project/presentation and ended up missing out on a bday party I'd planned on going to (heartfelt apologies to the Esquire and Snotty) and was up working until 6am. Slept for five hours and then was at it again today all day. Finally got my presentation ready and then spent a couple hours building a model and I'm done before midnight!

Now I just need to find time to write my research paper, put together a presentation on my research subject, and study for the essay test that are all due on Tuesday afternoon in my History of Interior Design class. And did I mention that I have classes all day tomorrow from 9am until 8:20pm? I'm sensing another all-nighter coming up. Feels like this should be finals... Oh well.

I posted some of the stuff I was working on today. Not sure how I feel about the interior renderings, I may have gone a little overboard with the Gaussian Blur in Photoshop! I was trying for a less stiff approach than my usual digital work. You wouldn't necessarily think so, but I did ALL of that stuff on the computer, the renderings, stair drawing, and floorplan diagrams.

Even though I'm exhausted and still have a ton of work to do, I feel really good for having gotten so much done. And it didn't hurt that Bryn was cooking up a test turkey with dressing tonight in anticipation for Thanksgiving next week (he's cooking). I'd never had a brine-soaked turkey before and it was seriously, hands-down the best turkey I've ever tasted. He also baked his own bread for the dressing/stuffing. Snacktacular!

Friday, November 14, 2008

gay marriage musings

Snotty had a couple posts recently talking about California's Proposition 8 and Connecticut's gay marriage laws. I was certainly disappointed that Prop 8 passed, and today I ran across an article by William Saletan that discussed how black voters likely had a large role in the proposition being approved.

According to Saletan:
They [blacks] think sexual orientation is different from race. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a nation in which individuals would be judged not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Whites, on balance, have come to believe that sexual orientation, like color, is immutable. Blacks, on balance, haven't. They see homosexuality as a matter of character. "I was born black. I can't change that," one California man explained after voting for Proposition 8. "They weren't born gay; they chose it."

He eventually sums up the article with:
From prenatal hormones to genetics to birth order, scientists have been sifting data to nail down homosexuality's biological origins. As they advance, it will become easier and easier to persuade African-Americans that being gay is a lot like being black. The lesson of Proposition 8 isn't that blacks have stopped the march of gay rights. The lesson is that when they turn, the fight in blue America will essentially be over.

And while I'm on the subject, I had left a silly comment on one of Snotty's posts apologizing for being gay and ruining marriage for anybody. Of course then I realized that it did have a hand in ruining my marriage with my ex-wife. Woops! Maybe I'm part of the gay agenda to destroy the sanctity of marriage after all?

Oh, and Bryn has a better idea than gay marriage. Civil unions for all, gay or straight. Then you can get "married" through whatever type of religious/spiritual ceremony you want in addition. Move back to the whole "separation of church and state" thing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dog Sweater Drama

I'm blogging to avoid working on my piles of schoolwork that needs to be done. Went to school this morning to register for spring classes, which conveniently was school-related and also allowed me to procrastinate. But I swear that as soon as I'm done with this post I'll get cracking.

Anyhow, I got the following text from my ex-roommate who now lives in NYC last night:
"Hey. Got an obscure and expensive gift in the mail today anonymously sent. Trying to figure out who sent it. Feeling a little creeped out. Any ideas?"

I called her and she said how she was freaking out from getting this $60 dog sweater (shown above) in the mail randomly and how she thought it was from her lame ex-boyfriend trying to get back together with her. She'd called her mom and her sister and they agreed and told her it was most likely from him. And she also had two drinks because she was freaking out so much.

Then I told her that I had actually had it sent to her as a holiday gift for her and Kozo (Kozo is a pug) and that it was supposed to come with a gift message saying it was from me. I remembered how Kozo had a Burberry sweater and know how she and I both like Cole Haan a lot, so when I saw the dog sweater on clearance I figured it would be a cute present for both of them!

Amusingly enough, this did little to calm her down (neurotic much?). But I don't think she's going to return it like she was planning (she had filled out the return slip that was enclosed). Personally, I am all in favor of any expensive gifts I receive in the mail, anonymous or otherwise.

Still, maybe I should let Cole Haan know that the gift message wasn't enclosed and that my nice gesture actually ended up driving the recipient to drink. And on the bright side, once she settles down, she'll have something to talk to her therapist about.

New Throw Pillows for the White House?

I found an interesting blurb about the White House in a "Design Daily" news briefing email I receive from ASID. It is interesting because another article I read talked about how there probably wouldn't be any extensive White House renovations due to the economy, and yet this article says that there is a $100,000 budget every four years! Which makes sense considering the size, function, and historical value of the property. Text below is copied from the email:

Barack and Michelle Obama have many design choices to make as part of their transition into the White House.

In the second installment of a series titled "Obama Chic: The Changing Face of the White House," FOX News (11/12, Corbin) reported on its website that, as part of the transition to the new President-elect, Barack and Michelle Obama will "transform the 208-year-old White House into the place they call home -- all while considering the historical preservation of times past. As have all the First Families before them, the President-elect and future first lady will supervise the refurbishing and redecorating of the White House residence -- working closely with a team of interior designers." They can redesign their personal space, and "have the authority to restore...public spaces, like the State Dining Room," as well as the White House grounds. The budget, appropriated by Congress "for the furniture and decor of the residence... was set at $100,000 for President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush," and is "allocated every four years."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pilchuck Auction Photos

Got an email that the photos taken by "Team Photogenic" had been posted online for folks to look at and purchase. I browsed through them (there are a LOT of photos) and it suddenly brought back a flood of memories. Of course, those memories were only about two weeks old, so it isn't surprising.

I threw a few images up so you can see that A) yes, Dale Chihuly was there; and B) no, my volunteer duties did not consist of hanging out near the buffet in the volunteer lounge. But that would have been nice.

Also I really liked the glass billiard ball set I got to carry--with wooden triangle carried by another art handler, of course. And that gigantic clown jar I am hugging desperately was valued at $23,000 so I'm really, really glad I didn't drop it.

Six Months

Got my hair cut even shorter last week for a new job (they're conservative) and it almost feels like it was never long. Since I haven't really seen anyone but Bryn for the past week, I figured I would throw this side-by-side comparison of my hair in June with my hair today. Thought that I would miss my long hair more than I do. Maybe it was just something I had to do to get the whole "art school" experience and make up for some sort of lost adolescence? Or perhaps I've sold out in favor of corporate interests? Either way, I'm okay with it.

Mist-Covered Mountains

Took Bryn to work this morning and on the way back across the bridge (520) I was struck by how shrouded in clouds the Olympic Mountains looked. When I got home I went up on the roof deck and took a few pictures, but the view from there wasn't nearly as dramatic. Plus my camera doesn't zoom in as close as I'd like. Still, it was a good way to start the morning.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Luther Burbank Park Revisited

I have this "sacred space" design proposal I have to create for a class. We are presenting them to a panel on Friday and since I was working on homework today I realized that it would be helpful to go back to the site and get a sense of the space again. It turned out to be really helpful. Figured I would throw up a few of the pictures I took. Included is a view of an earth sculpture by John Hoge and a view of some of the ritzy homes with private yachts on Mercer Island that you can see from the docks. *sigh* I need a friend with a yacht.

(Note: Sorry for the poor picture quality, I just realized I had the camera on the wrong setting. Still, you get the idea.)

New Pyramid Discovered

In non-Palin-related news, it was announced today that a new pyramid had been discovered in Egypt. Located in Saqqara, the team lead by Zahi Hawass believes that the 4300 year old pyramid may have been the burial tomb of Queen Sesheshet, although there is no direct evidence to link it to her yet. The base of the pyramid is all that remains and is about 16 feet high. It was buried under about 65 feet of sand and was initially discovered about two months ago. In two weeks they should reach the burial chamber itself, which may provide further clues about who it was built for. This is the 118th pyramid discovered in Egypt so far.

Cabbage Patch Palin

There's really no escaping Sarah Palin right now, is there? For instance there is the Sarah Palin Cabbage Patch Doll that will be auctioned off on Ebay along with Obama, McCain, and Biden dolls.

And then I was also reading one of the main articles this morning linked to MSN's home page about Matt Lauer's interview with Palin that aired today. She seemed a lot more likeable now that the election is over and she wasn't giving such divisive speeches. And I'm sure that having Lauer interview her in her kitchen with her family while she prepared a meal was meant to convey her "down-home" qualities. However, reading about it did make me feel like it could have been a little overly Martha Stewart to have the Governor of Alaska making a salmon and halibut casserole on national television. Not that she shouldn't be cooking, but isn't it a little contrived? Is she playing up the whole "supermom/governor" angle or is that really who she is? And does that mean that Matt Lauer is also going to do an interview with Joe Biden while he fires up the grill? I don't know how to feel about the obvious gender stereotyping that Palin seems to represent.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Defining "Palin"

No, I don't think Sarah Palin looks anything like Megan Fox. But I used that picture because for some reason, I'm now receiving a subscription to Maxim magazine. When one arrived in the mail a few weeks ago I didn't think anything of it. Today I checked the mail and there was another one! In fact, the very same issue as shown above. Although I do agree that Megan Fox is certainly quite hot, the fact that I'm gay and not really interested in objectifying women as sex objects means that I don't really need to receive this magazine every month. It strikes me as a little too misogynistic for light reading. Any ideas? Should I leave it randomly in a classroom at school? Abandon it in a restroom stall? Offer it to the next person who asks me for spare change? Either I got on some random mailing list, or somebody punk'd me.

But back to Sarah Palin (and perhaps she might end up on a future Maxim cover with the amount of attention she got), I read a really funny blog from Progressive Alaska about how "Palin" has made it into the Urban Dictionary. I'll leave you the joy and mystery of following the links to read the definitions yourself. (I can already think of some people I've encountered professionally who fit some of those definitions.) But I HAVE to share some of the user comments from the original post:

Here in the Northeast (described as the "great Northwest" by Palin when she last visited), we are already weeks into common usage of the term "Palin moment" to describe a floundering and utterly inept act or response. (from SMG)

Here in Queensland we've taken to calling small annoyances "a Palin the arse" (from Lynn-in-Australia)

My English teacher actually redlined something on a paper and made a nasty comment about a "Palinesque" sentence. It was a run-on, but that was uncalled-for. (from Anonymous)

UPDATE: I also just found a great ode to Sarah Palin on Huffington Post. Wordy, but funny!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Is it terrible that my afternoon was made when I found out that I can get 20% off any regularly-priced item at Club Monaco simply by showing my college ID card? I haven't used it yet, but just knowing that EVERYTHING in one of my favorite clothing stores is on sale for me (for the next 18 months) is pretty exciting.

If that makes me shallow, then so be it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Having had a few days to reflect on the election results, I have to say I've got such a strong sense of relief at how things turned out. My only real disappointment was the passing of Proposition 8 in California.

The scariest thing about this election for me was Sarah Palin and all of the right-wing nutjobs who came out of the woodwork in support of her. (For the record, let me say that I'm not really fond of left-wing nutjobs either.) She was interesting to watch, but I'm going to cross my fingers that we've seen the last of her on the national stage.

Even if I'm not a raving Obamaniac, it was still heartening to have gone and voted for him and to discover that us Americans finally had a collective "Network" moment where the majority of us shouted, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

I guess its best you feel that way.

If the following post ends up seeming petty, ridiculous, high-schoolish, and overdramatic to you, well, don't worry. It feels that way to me too and I haven't even written it yet. Here goes.

Apparently there are some ruffled feathers regarding my and Snotty's blog posts about Julep. Nobody has yet to contact either of us directly about it but somebody did send her an anonymous email warning her about a "cease and desist" letter. Oh yeah, and I've heard that management is bothering a friend (I'll call her Sally) and former coworker of mine who still works there about how much information she may be sharing with me. I'm not sure what is going on, or who is flipping out, but in the meantime I'll just write this entry and assume that whoever it pertains to will read it.

I'm aware of my First Amendment rights. I never signed anything stating I wouldn't talk about Julep or my experiences working there. Please keep in mind that if I really wanted, I've got plenty of information about Julep that I could divulge. Be glad that at this point, I'm pretty much over it and have better things to do with my time (school, school, and school). I try to avoid thinking or writing about Julep nowadays if I can help it. The only reason I wrote that last post was because I had read the article about Starbucks a couple days before I ended up hearing about the compensation switch from an hourly rate to commission, and I found Julep's sudden change in compensation amusing since there are plenty of ex-Starbucks folks working in upper management there.

You may be wondering, did I get my information about the compensation switch to commission from "Sally?" The answer is a firm, "No." In fact, I wrote that blog post before I ever talked to her about it. Meaning that bothering "Sally" about her loyalty to Julep is a total waste of your time (and hers). Do we ever talk about Julep? Well sure, sometimes. But we also have lives outside of work, so we like to talk about that stuff too. Just so we're clear, any posts about Julep (including this one) have been written without "Sally's" input, consent, or knowledge. And I'm rather disturbed that you are going to such lengths as to question her about our friendship or ask other employees about her loyalty to Julep behind her back. Seems like a witch hunt where you've already assumed she is guilty by association.

If you must know, I got the information indirectly from another ex-employee. So I can assure you that I'm not actively trying to get any super-secret-insider-information in order to plot Julep's downfall. Although I do hear some news from time to time about things going on, I tend to have plenty of other things to put my energy towards at the moment (did I mention school?). People in the spa industry (actually in most industries) like to talk. In spite of your best efforts, people will continue to talk. Normally, if people are allowed to talk to one another it makes for a better workplace. Using fear-based tactics to keep everyone silent only ends up making you look mean and petty.

As an experiment, I tried Googling "Julep Nail Parlor" and neither my nor Snotty's blogs showed up within the first ten pages of results. In fact, there wasn't any negative press at all, although I saw a few blog posts from people who had written nice things when Julep first opened. I can't imagine that more than ten people tops actually read my blog on a regular basis, and that figure may well include whoever from Julep is so up-in-arms about it. And really, if someone is so upset about people writing negative things on the internet about Julep, then they may want to do something about the user comments on Yelp and Citysearch, which I'm guessing are WAAAAY more likely to have an impact on potential Julep customers than anything I have to say here.

In case you are unsure about what steps to take to get us to quit writing posts like, oh, say this one, I offer the following suggestions:

1) Check out some free advice from a lawyer here. Keep in mind that I'm ready and willing to post any "cease and desist letters" I get in the mail online. And I'm sure you've already adjusted the hiring paperwork to address this topic, but on the off chance you haven't, you may want to get employees to sign some sort of confidentiality agreement. But don't overlook the advice about trying to "deal with the person human-to-human." Don't you think if would have been much more effective to have talked to me directly instead of conducting covert operations to see who's been talking to who which only results in me airing all of this in a public forum?

2) Please realize that this is a service-based industry. Your employees are your products. If you don't have Vernisseurs, you don't have any services to offer; meaning that you don't have any business to run. Instead of worrying about the activities of ex-employees, it would be much more constructive to focus on the happiness of the employees you still have. As an added bonus, it would also be less likely to result in negative blog entries (again, like this one).

3) Don't just say you believe in starting as you mean to go on. Do it. Also, it is never too late to make a fresh start.

So, to whatever you have to say about my blogging my immediate reply is:

I guess its best you feel that way.

Now get over it and move on.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Help me Wolf Blitzer! You're my only hope!

Not having a television, I had missed out on the hologram correspondents on CNN. This mashup of Wolf Blitzer talking to Jessica Yellin combined with Star Wars is pretty funny though! (Video from Slate.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kubota Garden

Here are some pictures I took at Kubota Japanese Garden in Renton last week when Bryn and I went to check out the fall colors. I've got a ton of homework, so I'm going for a more visual post today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

President Obama

The excitement was palpable outside our apartment tonight. I was neither glued to the internets or the television when I discovered Obama had won. And it wasn't from a phone call or text message either. I was alerted to it by the whooping of voices and honking of car horns that I could hear through the window. I figured it meant Obama had won, and when I checked CNN, my suspicions were confirmed.

My experience at the voting booth today didn't offer any heartwarming or community-building stories to share, like those I've been reading about online. But hearing all of the excitement outside, celebrating as if it were New Year's Eve is kind of nice!

Monday, November 03, 2008

In Bed with Architects

Sometimes getting sick isn't entirely bad. I've been fighting some sort of bug since Friday when I went home from school early, and it still has a hold on me today seeing as how I only made to one out of three classes. On one hand, I've been panicking about how many projects I have to work on. But being forced against my will to slow down and lay in bed for a while was a good idea. Why? It gave me time to watch some DVDs that I checked out from the library (you know you're getting old when you start borrowing movies from the library).

First up was Architectures-Vol. 5 (2005). It offered a look at six vastly different buildings including: The Alhambra in Grenada, The House of Sugimoto in Tokyo, Zaha Hadid's Phaeno in Germany, and Palladio's Villa Barbaro. I really liked getting a more in depth look at some individual buildings compared to the usual fly-by in my art/design history classes. It set the perfect tone for what was to come. That was on Saturday.

The next day I ended up watching Sydney Pollack's Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005). I'll admit that my only in-person experiences with Gehry's buildings has been with the Experience Music Project(EMP) in Seattle and a view from afar of his building for Barry Diller in New York. But I haven't been impressed. (I also questioned the line of jewelery he designed for Tiffany & Co.) Yet, after watching this movie I have a better understanding of where he is coming from and what he is trying to do. Does it always turn out well? Not at all! However, when it does work, it definitely bridges the ever-widening gap between art and architecture. It was nice to be able to gain a better appreciation for the man and his work, even if I still rather hate EMP.

Lastly, since I didn't make it to my art history class tonight I figured that I would at the very least make myself watch the other architectural movie I had borrowed. It was My Architect (2003) in which Nathaniel Kahn made a documentary about his search to find his father, architectural icon Louis Kahn, through visiting his buildings and interviewing people who knew him. This was the movie out of the three that I least wanted to watch. I had picked it up more out of a sense of obligation to watch it than because I really wanted to--I looked forward to learning more about Louis Kahn, but was wary of the family component to the movie. Would it take over the movie? Well, yes and no. It didn't take over the movie, it WAS the movie. But not in a bad way. In fact, I ended up liking this one the best out of the three for the way it brought the human element into the architecture. There are awkward moments, funny moments, sappy moments, intriguing moments; all of which may seem strange or disjointed by themselves. But they blended together and by the end of the movie I was won over. Good architecture isn't about something aloof and self-important, it is inspirational and becomes the backdrop on which we play out our lives.

It makes me sad that I'm out of movies now. Hopefully I'll be better tomorrow because I have an interview scheduled at 9am and I also need to vote! Can't stay in bed forever (sadly).

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Starbucks vs. Julep Nail Parlor

To start out, yes, I do recall a blog posted in September when I said, "So. No more ranting about Julep." Not that I'm excusing myself for going back on my word, but this post is less of a rant and more of a commentary about two things.

1) There is an article I just read a couple days ago called Starbucks Blues that reminded me a lot of Julep. Why? Well, aside from the owner having been a former Starbucks executive, the issues that the article was bringing up about the way Starbucks was dealing with both the recession and their employees sounded rather familiar. For example, take the following sentence from the article referring to the general Starbucks store experience:

"The store atmosphere remains suffused with NPR-style high-mindedness."

Now, read a quote directly from the Parlor Games blog written by Julep's owner:

"I LOVE our earth-friendly ribbon - Recycled and Recyclable, with our elegant-but-cute-as-a-button leaf cluster printed with soy-based ink."

Sound a little high-minded? (To say nothing of greenwashing, but that's another post.)

2) The other thing actually fits right in with the article too. The main point that author Liza Featherstone had was that Starbucks was indirectly taking measures to thin out their employees by implementing a new human resources strategy:

"This new "philosophy" is called "Optimal Scheduling," and it requires that "partners" (Starbucks-speak for employees) must dramatically increase their own flexibility. If they'd like to work full time, they must be available to work 70 percent of open store hours. (For a Starbucks open 16 hours a day, as is typical, this means 80.5 hours per week.)"

After hearing about a mandatory employee meeting that took place tonight where Vernisseurs were informed of a sudden change in compensation structure (which involves moving from a guaranteed hourly rate to a commission percentage off of services done), I realized that this sounded oddly familiar. Moreso because some people were offered commission rates at ridiculously low percentages (low-to-mid twenty percentile) in what I can only assume was an attempt to get them to quit. (If not, then it was a blatant attempt to take advantage of them.) It also seemed like a fairly desperate move, especially considering that I've heard business is rather stagnant at the two new locations that opened this year. (With another store opening planned for the spring perhaps?)

When I finally found the Starbucks Blues article and read it again, I was able to put all the pieces together. I don't think of Starbucks as the epitome of evil, but they also certainly aren't as socially responsible as they'd have one believe. Nor are their espresso drinks particularly good, although I admit to being spoiled by living on a block directly between two Vivace storefronts. And as for Julep, it seems to me like a case where you can take the executive out of Starbucks, but you can't take the Starbucks out of the executive.

Mindless Celebrity Musings

I've been sick this weekend, alternating between headachey tiredness and stuffed-up sniffles. In an attempt to liven up my afternoon today, I was browsing some of the celebrity photos in MSN's 'Undressed' fashion section. There were definitely some doozies. My two favorites are above.

Although I don't think many people could pull it off, I have to give Grace Jones mad props for not only putting on that outfit, but actually wearing it out in public. It certainly is something! Like, maybe she is going to an upscale pagan ritual? Whatever the reason, I love that she wore it.

I also chose Heidi Montag because she is SO completely ridiculous, and SUCH a shameless self-promoter, that I can't believe she still gets press. (And if I was going to pose for a fundraising effort in a Taco Bell kitchen, I would probably avoid wearing those boots.) Browsing the tabloid covers at the grocery store is made much more annoying by her and Spencer Pratt's shenanigans. I've never seen The Hills, and if she's on it, I never want to. Yech!

There was one other photo that I was captivated by, but didn't have the heart to post. Mainly because it was less about the outfit and more about the person. I'd rather keep the flawless image of Catherine Zeta-Jones in my mind than associate her with the poorly blended makeup job I just saw where the top half of her face was bronze and the bottom half was pale. Poor thing.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Monothon 2008

A couple of the prints I made at Monothon 2008 at Crow's Shadow Institute, plus some photos I took on the drive down to Pendleton, OR. All of this went down last weekend and I had a lot of fun! (Even though I drove over 500 miles just to spend three hours in a print studio. It was worth it.)