Friday, February 13, 2009

Microsoft: The Retail Store


At Cornish, most of the design department uses Macs except for a few of us lowly interior design students who have PCs. So a lot of my time is spent in full-on Mactopia. But as pretty as Macs are to look at, I've never found them to offer any significant advantages to Windows PCs. They have some things that are nicer (sleek design, um... and I'm sure there is more) and some that aren't (I'm not a fan of their operating systems and they always feel slower to me). I also recently traded in my iPod for a Zune and I've been really happy with that decision so far.

Since my partner is a diehard Microsoft fan (and employee) I've got a slightly more inside perspective on the "software giant" and easy access to their products. Although I like a lot of their stuff (Zune, arc mouse, Office 2007, even Vista), on the advertising front Microsoft as a brand always appears to be clunky compared to Apple. So I'm curious to see what they do with this new foray into operating a retail store.

A lot of the comments on the article I linked to were negative, but I don't necessarily think it would be an automatic failure. My advice would be to really think about the overall concept for the look and feel of the stores and products that will be sold there. Apple's success comes as much from their products as their commitment to a consistent design aesthetic, whether in their iPod nano or their retail stores. Both of these things offer a similar experience. Microsoft has been all over the place and even though the company is around thirty years old at this point, it still doesn't have a strong brand identity in the public sector.

Will they orient it around the X-box? The software? The Zune? The keyboards and mice they offer? I'm curious to see how this will turn out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meatloaf Valentine

Bryn made a Valentine's Day meatloaf with red food coloring so it would look "pink" and candy sprinkles on top. Although he makes really tasty meatloaf (and this one was no exception) it was still rather creepy. Like when Heinz made green ketchup.

I'd gotten him a book as his gift and decorated the bag for it at a friend's "Valentine's Craft Party" earlier this week. So that's what the second picture is.

Self Portrait Sick Day

I was supposed to go to the State Capitol to lobby for the current interior design legislation but I've come down with something and thought it would smarter not to go. It is annoying because I'm not throwing up or have a high temperature, but I feel generally crummy and have no appetite (which is how I KNOW that I'm sick).

So in an attempt to still get something done today I was working on making a self-portrait. Originally I was only going to make one and use it for two things, but I did the watercolor one first and didn't like it so well, which prompted me to do another one with color pencil. Of course now I think I like the watercolor one better, but whatever.

One of them will be mailed to the Eiteljorg Museum for their Facing West exhibit. Anyone can make a self-portrait for this and I thought it would be fun to do. (If you want to participate, more info here. You should totally do it!) Or maybe I'll send them both efforts.

The other thing making me do self-portraits was more important. Had to come up with one for the Worldstudio/AIGA Scholarship I'm applying for. I'll probably use the watercolor one for that, even if I don't have long hair anymore.

They were pretty easy, and I totally cheated and based them on photographs of myself. But it was fun to do and a nice break from designing things to actually making things.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Haven't felt much like blogging lately. In the absence of anything to write about I figured I would throw up some thoughts and facts about whales. Because I can.

Wouldn't it be cool to go swimming with a whale?

Blue whales (pictured above) are the current largest living animals and quite possibly the largest animals to live on Earth ever! There also used to be an estimated 200,000 to 350,000 Blue Whales before they started to be hunted in the early 1900s. Now there are about 8,000 to 14,000 Blue Whales worldwide.

As much as whale songs have gotten a bad rap by being added to "new age" music, they are actually pretty interesting.

Whales have "spindle cells" which are a type of brain cell related to intelligence found only (also) in humans and certain primates. Hmmmm.

Beluga Whales are pretty! And the few I've seen in person (whaleson?) seemed very friendly too.

Personally, I think that a high degree of curiousity is a sign of intelligence. It makes sense then that dolphins and whales are considered likely candidates of high intelligence.

Whales rule!

Dolphins are cool too, as long as they aren't put on t-shirts in a cheesy way. Same goes for whales. *Shudder* at art by Wyland!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Saw this today at Kobo on Capitol Hill. (The title is "Enfoodle.") LOVED IT! It is by Bellevue artist Ken Taya.

A cool riff on Andy Warhol's soup cans with a Japanese flair.

The nice thing about prints is that they tend to be fairly affordable. This one was 11" x 14" and only $40 unframed (edition of 100).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MS built a better mouse(trap).

Bryn surprised me today with a random gift. Of course, it also just happens to be a Microsoft product he picked up at the MS Company Store. But I really liked what he got!

Meet the "Arc Mouse." Compact, stylish, and portable. Has a tiny USB dongle that magnetically will attach to the bottom of the mouse when not in use. The curved shape is comfortable (so far) and folds for travel. I have it in red (shown above) but I guess it also comes in black.

I didn't need this at all, but I'm very happy to have it. It has a cool and sleek design that doesn't seem like a rip-off of an Apple product with the dark color and sharp edges (although it will work with Mac OS X v10.2-10.5 in addition to Vista/XP). Plus, the current travel mouse I use still has a retractable cord so this will be a little more convenient.

And did I mention that my current mouse I use with my laptop came with terrible glowing LED lights? I'm really thankful that the Arc won't distract me by changing colors every five seconds or make it look like I'm holding a rave when I work in a dark room.

The Harsher Side of Noguchi

I really like Isamu Noguchi's work, from his iconic furniture (that really cool coffee table) to his artwork (like the "Black Hole Sun" sculpture at Volunteer Park in Seattle). But I was looking through a book in class today and ran across the above photo. It is a sculpture he made in 1934 and is called "Death (Lynched Figure)."

Definitely the most representational of his work that I've seen. And the most disturbing!

But pretty powerful too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

American Capitalism, Boo

Whenever Bryn and I get into a discussion about capitalism, we pretty much always end up on opposite sides. I know that he is very pro-capitalism and I tend to be more cynical about it. But I guess part of the problem seems to be that he is usually talking about how capitalism is intended to work and I'm talking about what is actually happening, which isn't really capitalism at all.

Anyhow, I just ran across a really good article by Eliot Spitzer (yes, THAT Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced ex-governor of New York) on Slate. He talks about GM for instance and how it specifically chose not to act competitively over the past 30+ years, resulting in the current mess that GM is in when it actually has a need to compete with foreign auto companies.

The real problem, according to Spitzer, is that we keep supplying protection from needed changes. And this is something that I would say can apply to a huge corporation or to a single individual.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


When I got in the car this morning on my way to school I turned the radio on and realized that the inauguration was being broadcast live. After a few moments it became apparent that it was Pastor Rick Warren giving the invocation. I turned the radio off. But when I got to school our class ended up watching Obama be sworn in and his speech following that.

I'm not usually given to feeling very patriotic but I had to admit it was a powerful moment. Seeing the crowd that had assembled there to watch Obama being sworn in, hearing his (carefully crafted) speech, seeing how emotionally other people in the room I was in were reacting... well, I couldn't help but be aware that, like it or not, as an American citizen I am a part of something larger than myself. I can choose to participate and be responsible or I can choose to work against the system. But I do have the freedom to make those choices and that is something I've always taken for granted.

Today, I'm thankful to be American.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Bryn surprised me the other day when he came home carrying a Boggle game. This evening we descended further into the depths of old age by staying home on a Friday night (as per usual) and playing many rousing rounds of Boggle. He spiced things up by brewing up some coffee and adding whipped cream and caramel on top like a poor man's version of a Caramel Machiatto. Although to be fair, he was using some fairly expensive caramel from Fran's Chocolates.

I was supposed to go to an interior design event tonight but after Snotty cancelled due to a home cleaning emergency and I'd had to walk a few blocks to get a copy of a reader for one of my classes from Perfect Copy I decided to stay in. It is freaking cold out there today! I figured I would be too cold to network by the time I parked at school and walked downtown.

At least I unexpectedly kicked Bryn's butt at Boggle. See? I knew all those hours of playing stupid word games at bars would come in handy someday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Out of the BLUE!

I got a phone message earlier this week from a half-sister I've never talked to before and finally got around to calling her back tonight. It was cool, but also... weird. She'd also tracked me down on MySpace which I don't check all that frequently anymore so after we'd had a nice conversation I checked out her page.

HOLY F*&@%ING SH*TBALLS! I've always wondered what my biological dad looked like, and there he was, escorting her down the (grassy) aisle in her wedding photos (see example above). It has been quite a night. Needless to say, I got none of my reading done that I needed to for class tomorrow so I have set my alarm to get up at 6am and will hopefully be able to bust through it then.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Semester 6 out of 8

I was worried about starting school again since I still felt really burned-out after the last semester, but today went really well. My instructors for my "Interior Studio" and "Construction Documents" classes seem really knowledgeable and passionate so I'm sure that I'll learn a lot and have some fun in the process. Tomorrow is my art elective, "Print Art and Social Criticism," which I will be happy with as long as I have a chance to create some monotype prints at some point.

My other class (only taking four this semester!) is an H&S(Humanities and Sciences) elective. I was originally signed up for "Creating a Literary Arts Magazine" but after sitting through the first class last night I realized I had to bail. I could tell that the teacher, who I'm sure is a very nice person, is someone who would have driven me absolutely crazy. She's a hippie/goofy/earthy/PhD/lesbian. I couldn't handle it.

She stated at the beginning of the class that she had conscripted certain people she'd taught before so she knew that she'd be able to trust someone in the class, which seemed like an announcement of blatant favoritism. She also is an adjunct faculty member at Cornish AND at North Seattle Community College, which doesn't exactly inspire me with a great deal of confidence, PhD or not. (My experiences with our H&S department has not left me with a strong opinion of its academic merit.)

There were also a bunch of other design people in the class who seemed interested in running things and I didn't want to deal with any sort of a power struggle. My new class--that I don't even remember what it is called--will probably mean that I have more reading and writing assignments to finish, but at least it will be more structured. Plus this teacher also has a PhD and was a recent core faculty hire, so she isn't part-time at Cornish. (She spent the last six years teaching at a university in Israel.)

Goal for the semester: to become proficient with AutoCAD.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Freedom to speak our minds.

Having a lot of time to spend reading online articles and their accompanying reader comments over the past few weeks has made me think a lot about personal freedom and the media.

Freedom is, of course, something that most Americans (myself included) take for granted. Bryn and I have been talking about it a lot lately, and often the discussions have become more heated than either he or I would like as we tackle the subject. No matter how free one is to express his or her viewpoint, there is always the freedom of a person at the opposite end of the spectrum, as well as those in between, to express their thoughts too.

This increase in the accesibility that people have to share their thoughts with the world has put us under heightened scrutiny. The importance of mass-media has emphasized the importance of mass-appeal to consumers of products and information. Information is a product nowadays in a way it never has been before.

I suppose my thoughts boiled down to wondering why we, as a society, are so focused in on defining character flaws in other people? There are the obvious examples such as tabloids that pick apart choices made by celebrities, from what they wear, to who they sleep with, to what they eat. Nothing they do is seen as too insignificant to report on. There are also examples like Alexandra Penney, an author who lost her life-savings recently with the arrest of Bernie Maddoff. She isn't exactly a non-public figure, but her series of articles for The Daily Beast titled The Bag Lady Papers sparked a frenzy of comments that offered messages of support or, more often, anger at the fact that she is so publicly lamenting her descent into a middle-class existence. She has every right to be afraid of what is happening in her life just as I have every right to feel jealous of the circumstances that previously allowed her to live a privileged lifestyle. But I see no need to let my jealousy eclipse my compassion as so many others do.

This freedom of being able to access or disseminate information has had some amazing results for humanity. It has allowed, among other things, for discussions to take place across time, distance, and social classes, such as a fascinating group of posts where Slate women were blogging about "sugar daddies" which I was reading this morning; but, it has also given us new forums in which to wallow in negativity and obsess over details that may have no direct impact on our lives. What I find most disturbing about these dissections is the vitriol that seems to be so common.

The saying that "we are our own worst critics" seems to ring true on a collective as well as personal level.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My List of Everything

Too much in my head right now to write a single cohesive blog. Instead, here are things I've been reading/thinking about lately:

1) The picture above is an "organicube" that fits a whole apartment into a 10' x 10' x 10' cube. It does looks pretty cool. But speaking as someone who shares a studio apartment with another adult and two cats, I don't forsee the average American being able to downsize into one of these puppies anytime soon. Really cool concept though. It would be a great "getaway cabin."

2) Just got my grades for last semester which were about what I'd expected. One A- and the rest As. Is it too much to hope for just one semester with a 4.0 GPA? I keep getting thwarted by that stupid "-"!!! I've got three more semesters to try. Really though, I have nothing serious here to complain about. The lowest grade I've gotten since I've been at Cornish was a B+ and I'm on the honor roll. I'm being whiny, I know it.

3) I've been getting more and more fed up with living in the city the past few years. I keep finding myself dreaming of living somewhere very rural. It could be a passing fancy or it might be a sign of a more profound internal change. Either way, this article, How the city hurts your brain... and what you can do about it, in the Boston Globe brought up more issues with city living. Found it via Monica Guzman's Big Blog at the Seattle PI. Oh, and the PI was just put up for sale today. Looks like we're going to have only one daily newspaper in Seattle pretty soon.

4) An article in the NY Times called The Lure of Opulent Desolation was thought provoking in how we tend to view the recent past. Specifically how the 1950s era (late 40s to early 60s) is portrayed in books, television, and movies nowadays.

5) And last a mid-December article in Newsweek by Anna Quindlen titled Stuff is Not Salvation echoes my current personal feelings about consumerism.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Butter Cutter!?!?!?!

I'm a big fan of butter, but even I have my limits. Found this "One Click Butter Cutter" via Treehugger. Yikes.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Video Art at the Henry

Went to the Henry Art Gallery yesterday to check out the current exhibits. There was a cool, small photography exhibit that had been curated by one of my art history teachers, a larger exhibit focusing on the photography of Richard Misrach, and an exhibit featuring four separate video installations.

The Richard Misrach work was pretty fascinating since the show mainly looked at his large scale photographs of people on the beach. But the video installations were what have really stayed on my mind. Guy Ben-Ner's Wild Boy seemed kind of crudely made (it was shot entirely in his home), yet managed to touch on powerful ideas of family and domesticity.

What really blew my mind was the portion of The Rape of the Sabine Women made by Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation. The photo above is a view of the installation. I didn't see the whole thing, but what I did see was pretty compelling. I plan on making a trip back to specifically watch the whole thing. It was filmed in Berlin and Greece and is full of richly disturbing visual imagery.

Note: The Henry Art Gallery offers free admission to college students with ID at all times, and free admission to everybody on Thursdays!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Reaping What They Sowed

In case you think that I've spent too much time recently berating Starbucks for diluting its brand, I'll throw in another example. Yesterday it was announced that the British manufacturer of crystal and china, Waterford Wedgwood, was filing for bankruptcy. Sounds like another case of a company overexpanding in the neverending chase for financial success, only to hit a wall when the market becomes oversaturated and demand falls.

In fact, I'll use another example, that of Krispy Kreme. As an article by Kate Sullivan in CFO Magazine states:
"In its quest for growth, Krispy Kreme also squandered some of its mystique. "They became ubiquitous," says Jonathan Waite, an analyst for KeyBanc Capital Markets in Los Angeles. "Not just in sheer numbers of restaurant units, but also roughly half of their sales started going to grocery stores, gas stations, kiosks. Anywhere that consumers could be found, you could find a Krispy Kreme."

I'd brought up a quote by Issy Sharpe of "trust being a company's emotional capital" previously. This trust needs to be extended to both employees and customers. If a customer chooses a brand based on how it is promoted, only to find out that these claims no longer hold true, then where is the trust? If Wedgwood and Waterford are steeped with British and Irish history, but most of the porcelain is produced in Jakarta and crystal in eastern Europe, then the brand isn't living up to what it has been promising.

On Religious Fundamentalism

I'm a great collector of books, but when I'm in school I usually don't have as much time to read them as I'd like. Hence, I've built up a backlog of books that I've been meaning to read. One such book is Vine Deloria Jr.'s God is Red: A Native View of Religion. It was originally released in 1973 and the edition I'm reading is one that was updated and released in 1994. So far I'm only about 60 pages into it, and I'm starting to see why it is often referred to as a seminal work on Native religious views. Although interestingly enough, it is much broader than just Native religion and looks at politics, the American Indian Movement, Christianity and Western societies, and more. He's got some really interesting things to say, including this paragraph discussing the rise of the "religious right." His take still feels relevant considering such recent controversial public figures in the news as Sarah Palin, Pastor Rick Warren, and Bernie Maddoff.
An increasing number of Americans have become members of the religious right, the fundamentalists. As mainline churches lose members rapidly through their constant efforts to pander to the unchurched and make themselves relevant, mindless fundamentalism makes amazing strides, even among the educated people in society. When the fundamentalists seized on abortion as an issue, they found the key to political power. Thus was created the irony of modern American life. The fundamentalists could care less about human life after birth. They unquestioningly accept American military ventures around the world and cry for more blood with each invasion or carpet-bombing of small countries. They steadfastly support the death penalty and see nothing wrong with its one-sided application to racial minorities. They close their eyes to blatant theft of American assets by government officials, savings and loan executives, and bankers, and oppose every social program that is proposed. Yet on the abortion issue they wax eloquent about the sanctity of life as if their salvation depends on it.

Rather timely? I think so.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Movie: The Women (2008)

After ACT Theater put on a really good production of The Women here in Seattle recently I was kind of excited to see the updated movie version by Diane English (creator of Murphy Brown). Rented it tonight. Was vaguely amused but underwhelmed. The best moment was watching Meg Ryan eat a stick of butter dipped in cocoa and sugar while talking about how she could suck the nails out of a board. And as much as I disliked how the character of Sylvie had been changed, I thought Annette Bening did a good job with what she'd been given.

Read some reviews on IMDB and otherwise after watching the movie and nobody has much good to say about this movie. I concur. After reading comments I was glad I wasn't a diehard fan of the 1939 George Cukor-directed version or I probably would have been really pissed off too! The newer film has moments, but the whole thing is rather unwieldy. (And poor Meg Ryan. I don't know what she did to her face, but her mouth isn't quite right anymore. Also her hair was pretty intense.) I watched the featurette and learned that English had been working on this project since 1995 and had gone through many, many versions of the script. Since she also served as the director and producer, perhaps it was a case of being too close to a project. Sometimes that can work for you and other times you don't see things objectively enough. I appreciated what she was trying to do, but perhaps it would have worked better in a different setting. The New York backdrop made it feel too much like it was trying to be Sex and the City. Actually, another movie that came to mind was Robert Altman's Dr. T and the Women. It may have been a muddled mess too, but it had more pertinent observations about women of a certain social caliber than this remake of The Women.

Commerce Secretary Gregoire?!?

The following post is reprinted from an entry on Progressive Alaska's blog...

From a Friend in Washington State

From my interview just now with Gregoire spokesperson Laura Lockard:

Q: Is Governor Gregoire going to be Obama's nominee for Commerce

A: “We’re not able to speak to that so we’ll do a release in the

Q: Where is she?

A: “She’s out of state.”

Q: Is she in the country?

A: "I’m not allowed to say.”

Q: Is she going to continue as Governor of Washington State?

A: "I’m not allowed to say.”

Like everyone, I await tomorrow's announcement. But I will say—and
again this is just tea leaves—that Lockard didn't sound like a staffer
who was mourning some sort of personal tragedy in her boss's life.

And, not to get too far ahead of things, but: Governor Brad Owen?

UPDATE: It looks like the blog entry I reprinted was actually originally from a Stranger Slog entry by Eli Sanders.

FINAL WORD: Turns out that she is going to visit WA State troops in Iraq. Phew! Because Brad Owen scares me.

Internship Interview

Well, the snow didn't keep me away from my internship interview this morning. It was still a little slushy on side roads in Capitol Hill and in Greenwood where the office was, but I made it. And I'd say the interview went well, aside from the fact that they were looking for someone with more strength in typography. So no dice. I had figured it might be long shot since I'm not a Visual Communications major, but at least I got to practice showing my work to an Art Director. And her assistant told me on the way out that they had really liked my work.

I was also kind of excited to find out about the publication. The internship was for a magazine called City Arts that publishes three editions (Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma) every month. Considering that the Seattle Times laid off their art critic--Sheila Farr--last month, it is good to know that there are some forms of art coverage still trying to start up around here.

Honest Scrap

Snotty tagged me for this viral MySpace-seeming survey masquerading as a "blog award." But seeing as how I'll do most anything to put off doing laundry for a few more minutes, I was more than happy to accept. Apparently all I have to do is list ten honest and interesting things about myself and then tag seven other bloggers. I'm going to skip the tagging part because that just feels so very high school. Tell you what... if you read this and want to take part, then consider yourself tagged. The rules are so general that I doubt I'll get in any sort of trouble for flouting them.

Ten Honest Things About Me

1. I attended eight separate elementary schools in three different school districts. Only one was a private school.

2. In the seventh grade I read all 1000+ pages of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind, mainly because it was the longest book I knew of at the time. I also started War and Peace soon after, but never made much progress.

3. One of the things that helped finalize my decision to pursue a BFA in interior design at Cornish was a tarot card reading at a Halloween party I attended in 2005.

4. Interestingly enough, I recently found a copy of the results from a "Kuder Occupational Interest Survey" I had to take in the 11th grade. The second highest occupational group for men with interest patterns similar to mine was "Interior Decorator." (First was "Film/TV Producer/Director.")

5. Although I think it is a comforting idea to believe in it, I remain highly skeptical that there is any sort of life after death.

6. The biggest regret of my life is that I didn't stay with my mom in the hospital until she died. She was in a coma and we had her taken off of life support. My dad can't handle hospitals and I had to take the signed copy of her living will by myself up to the ICU. I was 14.

7. I really wish I knew how to play a musical instrument or speak another language.

8. Even though I tend to be more quiet and serious as an adult, when I was in the third grade I talked so much that I was the kid who had to put their desk next to the teacher's.

9. After my divorce I spent several years drinking really heavily. I still drink socially at times, but it hasn't been a problem so I don't know whether I'm a "recovered alcoholic" or what. Either way, I'm so glad I turned my life around from where it was headed at that point.

10. I'm adopted and found my biological mother when I was 12. When I was 26 she told me she had run into my biological father and they were dating again. He hadn't known I existed at all. They broke up a few months later.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Museum of Glass

Bryn and I went to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma last week. I'd gotten free passes for volunteering this fall at Pilchuck Glass School's annual auction and figured I should go and check out the museum now that I actually knew a little something about art glass. We had a fun time, although not because we were particularly wowed by the museum. From what (little) I had heard about it, I was expecting to be wowed. Instead I was underwhelmed, and it was equal parts the art I saw and the museum itself.

Of the exhibits on view my favorite was the one featuring work by Dante Marioni. His pieces are so precise in their craftsmanship that one can't help but be taken in by them. I especially liked his cases of goblets that invoked collectorly feelings and the large patterned acorns. Also on display was Contrasts: A Glass Primer which had some really cool pieces. Too bad it featured cheesy words stenciled on most of the display cases that labeled objects with words like "translucent" or "vessel."

A collection of opaque white glass objects by Daniel Clayman was starkly contemporary. The better ones reminded me a little of Richard Serra's work, although smaller in scale and in a much more fragile media. The weaker ones just seemed like the results of a foundation design course--really cool and interesting, but not pushing the envelope. Of course there was a Chihuly piece on display for a limited time, The Laguna Murano Chandelier. It is a beautiful piece of work; but, like most of his work, there doesn't seem to be much of a deeper meaning.

I was glad I had free passes. The ten dollar admission seems kind of steep for the smallness of the museum. My limited experience with glass at Pilchuck this summer left me with the impression that making objects in glass can be very seductive. Unfortunately, viewing glass objects doesn't always elicit the same type of emotion. And don't get me started on the "Chihuly Bridge of Glass" that connects the waterfront with the rest of downtown Tacoma. *shudder*

To be honest, I was more impressed by what we saw in the Traver Gallery located next to the museum. They had a selection of Chihuly objects that were all hideous in varying degrees, a room of Preston Singletary's work--that I loved, and most of the largest display area was taken up with work by Catherine Grisez that was fascinating. Her works combined glass, metal, and gemstones in intriguing ways to achieve a complexity that was lacking from most of the glass objects we'd seen that day.

I guess I left with the feeling that there are a lot of skilled people working in glass. But in many cases, without a deep level of thoughtfulness and strong concepts to ground the work, there isn't really much there besides pretty things to look at. Chihuly helped bring a lot of attention to glass art in general, and in the Pacific Northwest in particular. That this museum celebrates that growth is great. Where the opportunity lies is in being more critical and serious about the field. I'd say the curators could really do a lot more work to help people understand why the objects being shown are museum-quality. I wasn't always convinced.

Seattle Snow: Round Two

After our week of snow that left us with a white Christmas, I was (un)pleasantly surprised tonight when I left work and discovered huge snowflakes falling from the sky. What was worse is that they were starting to stick, and if they were sticking down by the waterfront, that meant that there was definitely going to be a coat of snow on the ground on the way home. My car isn't really made for snow driving, although I'm generally okay with it when forced. I don't mind driving in snow if I have to, but I prefer not to. It just seems like the possibility of an accident happening is enhanced, even if it isn't my fault.

Anyhow, I have an internship interview in the morning so I'm hoping that it does turn to rain and wash away like the weather forecasters claim will happen. This interview has already been rescheduled about three times, once of which was because of the snow. I've got my fingers crossed!

The snow is really pretty though. I took a few pictures out the window with the flash off, so they turned out mostly blurry. A few are above. My favorite is the one in the middle with the construction cranes against the sky. The longer exposure gave the sky a weird tone. Creepy, but cool.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bristol Palin and Teen Marriage/Pregnancy/Sex

There's just something about almost every photo of Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin I see that makes me easily imagine how unhappily married they might be in twenty years. Obviously there was an unplanned pregnancy, but I don't think ANY 17 and 19 year-olds should be getting married (as it is rumored they are going to do this summer), whether they have a baby together and are conservative Christians or not. And I'm saying this as someone who did get married at a young age (I was17!!!!) and in retrospect thinks it was a mistake. In this day and age of "finding yourself" I don't really think many people are fit to get married at 25, let alone before they are of legal drinking age. My marriage wasn't because of a pregnancy and I don't regret having done it in the sense that I learned a lot and it made me who I am today. But it ended in divorce (for various reasons) and as an adult I think I was pretty naive to be making such a major decision at such a young age.

I wish I could remember where I read it, but I know I was reading something within the past few weeks that quoted some figures on teens who had taken some sort of vows of chastity until marriage (normally due to religious beliefs) and those who hadn't. Again, I don't remember the details, but the gist of the article was that Bush's goals of pouring money into abstinence-only education wasn't working out. Kids were still having sex. Those who took vows of abstinence were more likely to indulge in oral or anal sex since those activities were often viewed as ways to still save their virginity. And their understanding of condoms had been so distorted by the fact that they don't necessarily protect against some STDs like herpes, that they were less likely to use them, even though they are still effective against fluid-based STDs.

The one article I CAN remember where I read was in Newsweek. The article's title is The Abortion Wars Get Technical, but I think the subtitle really sums it up: "Women have few rights at all when doctors can legally misinform them or deny service entirely."

UPDATE: Guess what I found when I was reading the Seattle Times this morning? An article titled "Abstinence-only sex education has totally failed the nations teens."

UPDATE #2: I also just found this New Yorker article about "why so many evangelical teenagers get pregnant."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What Friends Are For

My old roommate has been in town this week. I'd thought we would be spending more time together than we have, although to be honest, I'm not very upset that we haven't.

It has been disappointing to realize that she doesn't place the same value on our relationship as I have. I don't take it personally, I just think it is where she's at. And I'll freely admit that it used to be enough for me too. It was easier to emulate being friends than to really be there for one another. It seemed safer somehow. We were able to use each other when it was convenient and pretend it didn't matter when we felt taken advantage of. At least seeing her this week offered me an opportunity to reevaluate things in person and to practice not worrying about her needs over my own.

I'd say our relationship initially grew less out of an honest personal connection than from a mutual recognition in each other of similar fear-based tendencies. Plus we were both working at a really crappy place that offered us a shared experience to commiserate about (it has since closed). We also appreciated each other's cynical outlook on life and shared similar twisted senses of humor.

I see a lot of similarities between my friendship with her compared to a former best friend of mine. He and I haven't spoken in almost two years. While I don't harbor any ill will towards him, I doubt we would ever be able to be friends again. More to the point, I doubt we ever really were friends, at least not in any meaningful way.

This realization doesn't mean that I feel an immediate need to cut her completely out of my life. But I think I'm going to have to downgrade my current level of involvement with her to "acquaintance" status. I'll always hope for the best for her and am more than happy to keep in touch. But I'll only be willing to commit to a more involved friendship when she's going to participate equally. Call it a resolution or a priority or spring cleaning or whatever; I'm just not willing to keep putting effort into something that's an illusion. There are other people in my life, both friends and family, where that energy would be better spent.

Happy Friggin' New Year

I really hate New Year's Resolutions. More often than not they are focused on physical or financial self-improvement. The idea of a fresh start is always romantic and I do agree that it is nice to have a time of year when it seems appropriate to do it, but I also feel like it engenders and results in false/failed expectations. Not that I couldn't afford to put some more energy towards those areas of self-improvement! But I'd rather do it out of an actual sense that I'm wanting to work on things than because it is the "fashionable" time of year to do so.

It has been really good to time off from school and work (although I had thought I'd be working more right now). It has given me the time and space to give attention to people that I've been too preoccupied to focus on (Bryn, thanks for hanging in there). I've also had time to spend on evaluating my priorities and thinking about the future. Perhaps I'm kidding myself and happen to be forming resolutions after all. But I promise they have nothing to do with the new year or with any sort of superficial self-improvement program.