Monday, March 31, 2008

Watch Those Politicians

FactCheck I like the idea of a nonpartisan political fact-checker. Awhile ago I saw a news clip about fact-checking headquarters operated by specific political parties, and their claims can get messy pretty quickly. Something about the dirt these affiliated organizations dig up seems questionable to me. An independent watchdog appears to be more credible in these situations, one like FactCheck. They say:
We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

FactCheckI am tempted to go on a digression about a certain presidential candidate that I dislike, but I will keep my mouth shut. You can read what you will at FactCheck about this one (and others) for yourself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Little Bit of Magic

MagicI went to a magic and comedy show yesterday at the Chambersburg Capitol Theater. The building was quite nice, and the show was entertaining. I have never seen a live ventriloquist before. A lot of Pete Michaels' jokes were a bit off color, especially considering there were kids in the audience. His routine was more for the older folks. Greg Kennedy did innovative juggling, and I have never seen juggling quite like that before. Chris Capehart did some comedy magic aimed at the kids. He liked to say, "hurry up kid."

One guy, Jason Bishop, did lots of the those fancy smancy hand card disappearing tricks. But most impressive were his making-the-lovely-assistant-disappear feats. I really have no idea where or how the girl could have escaped and reappeared. To top it off, she had on a different outfit every time she returned. Whoah. That just might have been magic.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Express YourselfThis is fun. BuzzDash Vote on every topic from entertainment to politics; sports to business news. Here's a random sampling of questions you could be asked:

-If you had the looks/opportunity, would you want to be a supermodel?
-Is the protracted Democratic battle hurting the party?
-Are you interested in being hypnotized?
-What do you think is the most common motivation for people to lie?
-So…what exactly is going on with Donald Trump’s hair?
-Would you want Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics?
-Which of these animals would you least want to have as a pet?
-When you create a game character based on yourself, it's usually more:
-Should the US grant immunity to those Mexican immigrants already here?
-"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." True?
-Eggs come in cartons. Make it modern: Don't put all your __ in one __.

Jump In. Be Heard.

(Warning) This is highly addictive, so don't say I didn't tell you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dream Lives of Butterflies

Butterfly I just finished reading Dream Lives of Butterflies by Jaimee Wriston Colbertson. I love the melodic sentences and eloquent language of her writing. I felt very engaged by her novel. Most of it is set Saint Louis and some in Hawaii.

I enjoy the compilation of short-stories-turned-novel method of literary fiction. That is something I wish to do someday--write a novel of 'excerpts' that weave together to create a beautiful unified piece of disparate characters, settings, themes, and images. I believe the idea is similar to the six degrees of separation theory, and can function as a great organizing principle for modern literature.

Dream Lives of Butterflies The only criticism I have of this book is that the connections between stories were not strong enough. Some of the characters fell off never to reappear again. I can't handle that. If I am given partial understanding, I must have full disclosure (or at least really big hints). You can't tell me Lucy had a troubled childhood graffitiing rocks and then dismiss her. You can't tell me a story about a woman getting groped on a plane by a stranger and drop her to be never mentioned again. Argh. Don't get me wrong, the interweaving that did take place was intricate and extremely meaningful, but unaddressed concerns can become a little too frustrating.

Don't ever make your reader feel unsatisfied when all is said and done.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The New Rachel Carson

The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. GirlsTonight I went to a lecture by Dr. Sanda Steingraber, ecologist, author, and cancer survivor. She is the author of "The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls: What We Know and What We Need to Know" This report is downloadable here courtesy of the Breast Cancer Fund. I found Steingraber's presentation to be infinitely interesting, dare I say entertaining, and most of all disconcerting.
In recent years, there have been cases highlighted in the media of children entering puberty as young as age 5. The onset of puberty—for both black and white girls—shows signs of a continuing decline as measured by the appearance of breasts (thelarche)... For example, in 1970, the average age of thelarche was 11.5 years. Thirty years later, it had fallen to just under 10 years for U.S. white girls and just under 9 years for black girls...Studies have shown that the earlier girls enter puberty, the more likely they are to experience negative physical and mental health consequences.

pollutionIf you think about it, girls maturing at an earlier age has to lead to more victimization. She has less time to process the changes and messages that circulate around young girls, and more time to make poor decisions. In addition, girls no longer have the time to learn everything that is necessary for full development before the brain changes, hence less time to learn sports, a language, or complex processes. Earlier puberty is problematic and we as a society need to start implementing preventative measures.

I was intrigued by Steingraber's short time with us at Shippensburg University. Not only is she a scientist, but also a poet. Some refer to Steingraber as "the new Rachel Carson." I think the honor is deserved.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Andy Warhol

While in Pittsburgh for the NCECA conference, we visited the Andy Warhol Museum. I was impressed with it. Even recognizing his work is rather 'easy' to do, you have to admit it's cool.

Pop art is cool.

There I said it. I like Andy's work. He may have been a strange strange man (even gross at times ie. peeing on his canvases for an oxide reaction), but I respect his artwork--or at least his prints.

Warhol PrintAlso there were works by Jasper Johns and Neke Carson. You know him. He painted Andy Warhol with his butt, termed 'Rectal Realism.' Gross. The painting sucks, but it (or rather his method) caused a big stir.

I loved the Silver Clouds installation that was just a room with 20 or so shiny silver balloons inside. A plaque by the door even read that the balloons were "refurbished." Gee, to think that the original balloons didn't last.

Ron Mueck Ron Mueck also had a special exhibit in the Warhol Museum. He creates the most ultra-real human forms I have ever seen. He captures red marks on the skin, hair follicles, dimples, blemishes, and form perfectly. His works are larger than life or tinier than it. They almost strike me as creepy. Yeah, that giant baby you see is creepy, right?

I can't resist but to leave you with my favorite quote by Warhol:
What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What's your IQ?

So I have some ridiculously good news. I got an email today from NYU Steinhardt. I got in. Whoo! My dream school in my dream city. Sigh. This makes me very very happy. Let's hope things will work out. Whoo! That about sums that up. Whoo! I am so articulate.

Japanese IQ testOn to the real post now: You've got to take this Japanese IQ Test: Everybody has to cross the river. Make sure you read the directions first. It is funny, fun, and challenging. I'm not going to lie, it took me several tries. I wonder how I'd fare in the Japanese job market? Is it time that matters? Or is it actually solving the puzzle that does? Hmmmmmm.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Made of Steel...and Clay

Who knew Pittsburgh isn't so bad? -kind of cool actually. Pittsburgh My first impression of Pittsburgh has changed. As in the difference between Kennywood and the city center. Yeah, downtown is much better.

throwing on the wheelI happened to be in Pittsburgh this past week for an NCECA conference (The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts). I have endless things to say about it, but I know I must limit myself. There were amazing demonstrations, lectures, galleries, shows, vendors, the who's who of ceramic art, and so much more. I am impressed by level of work I saw, and I am impressed by how the medium can be stretched (pun intended). I saw some stuff done in clay that certainly did not look like clay or did not look like clay could possibly do that.

CeramicsFrom my time at NCECA, I am inspired to create better work myself. I guess you could say, "I can't wait to get my hands dirty" ha ha (another corny pun intended).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Coloring Eggs

This week I've been in Pittsburgh (which I will post about later). I made it home just in time to be swept over to my grandparent's house for our annual Easter Egg Coloring Get-together. I ended up taking so long on each egg that I only got to decorate three eggies. I had Peeps on my brain, so what do you know? that's what appeared on one of my eggs. One was a miserable failure, so we will not discuss that one. And finally, the last one celebrated the 'feet' of Easter--namely cow, chick, and bunny feet.

What can I say? I had to amuse myself.

But, I am not going to lie, I am pleased with how they turned out this year (except for that one we were not going to talk about).

Peep Easter EggFeet Easter Egg
You can judge for yourself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Peep Bomb

Yellow Marshmallow PeepsIngredients:

1 yellow marshmallow peep,
a paper plate,
and a microwave


A. Turn microwave on high.
B. Watch inside carefully
C. Wait until peep explodes
D. Stop microwave
C. Peel sticky goo off plate, walls, door
E. Enjoy.

Or, for a less messy treat, wait until peep inflates to 3 times its size and stop the microwave.

My Peep experiment followed the latter directions, as I am not a big fan of cleaning up. The transformation was still worth it though.

Peep Before

Peep After

Te he he. Does it get any better?

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patty's Day

Hey, do you remember Lucky Charms cereal? I was just thinking about it today. I remember at Camp YoliJwa when I was younger, we would always storm the dining hall in the mornings to get a table with Lucky Charms, because that was the only fun cereal they served. To be honest though, I never liked the little marshmallows. They may have been cool shapes, but they were kind of gross. Anyway...

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

May you be visited by little scary green leprechauns in your sleep and wake up to rainbows and a pot of gold...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Brownie Stix

Jenn's Brownie Stix
Alright chocoholics. Who wouldn't love some brownie stixs? They are my new invention. Instead of having those boring squares, why not have long skinny biteable brownies? Good for dipping. Good for snacks. Good for sharing. Good for not sharing. Let me tell you, these are going to be a winner. The idea came about as I was cutting the crust off of brownies for a bake sale and I realized the strips were way cooler than the giant hunks. They are more festive and friendly and delicious. The sprinkles help too.

Bah ha ha.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cannoli, Cannolo, Cannol __whatever

After scouring all of Italy for cannoli, I never got one. To be honest, I had thought I had gotten one, but my lovely Mirabile Inventu friends assured my that that thing I got from the bakery down the street in Venice was in no way a cannoli.

I had been so happy. And then so sad.

But anyway, almost a year later, Emily C. found one in Washington DC, and got it for me. Yummy. Now I've had a cannolo, maybe not from Italy, but I've had one nonetheless. It was great.

There has also been some confusion among my friends about the term, "cannoli." Wikipedai says:
Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo, meaning “little tube”, with the etymology stemming from the Latin "canna", or reed... Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling
Now we know.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Peking Acrobats

Peking Acrobats Logo Ridiculous I say, ridiculous.

I went to see the Peking Acrobats from China last night with John, and they were amazing.
I think I had a clenched fist for the entire performance.

Peking Acrobats BalanceWe witnessed stunts like precarious chair balancing, spinning plates, jumping back and forth from two really tall poles, Chinese dragon costumes, a human jump rope, tables balancing and twirling on feet, riding a unicycle on an umbrella, juggling with odd objects, bodies hopping through hoops, 10 people on one bicycle, unwinding from free hanging ropes, crazy lifts, and body contortions.

I'm still amazed.

Peking Acrobats DragonsThe show was definitely first class. I could imagine it being performed for important dignitaries. The music by the instrumentalists was beautiful, the choreography great, and thrill entertaining. I can't but help but wonder what life is like for the young performers. Nobody's spine is supposed to bend the way they bent theirs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Trip to DC

Yesterday Emily C. and I went to Washington DC. We drove to Shady Grove and then took the metro into the city. EMILY gave ME wrong directions. Yes, that's right, now there is balance in the universe and people can no longer accuse ME of being a bad direction giver.

NMAI teepeesWe first visited the National Museum of the American Indian. I was more impressed with it that I expected to be. The elaborate bead work of Native Americans is amazing. Also, the influence of Christianity on Native American culture was clearly delineated in certain displays.

pandaNext we visited the National Zoo. Unfortunately, we got to the zoo so late that we missed a lot of the animals. Emily flirted with the zoo police in the panda exhibit so the officer let us stay to watch the pandas chomping on bamboo for an extra half hour. Way to go.

Nen DaikoLastly, we saw a show at the National Theater: Nen Daiko: The Power and Beauty of Taiko Drumming. I was highly impressed. The settings were intimate. We were very close to the performers; so close we could see the sweat dripping off their brow. The performance was spectacular. I don't know how their arms don't fall off.
The fabulous drummers from the Ekoji Buddhist Temple present kumi daiko – ensemble drumming – played on large Japanese drums with choreographed movement. Their performance embodies the bold energy and athleticism characteristic of this mesmerizing musical form.
Overall, we had a nice day.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Birdies on a Branch

Ha ha ha.

This picture is so cute, it almost hurts. Those birdies must be really cold. Or perhaps they just really love each other. Or perhaps the blue birds were singing too loud so the others decided to squish them senseless. That one in the center does NOT look comfortable.

I have no idea who took this photo. I can imagine that if I saw this in my backyard, my life would be complete. This kind of cuteness turns my insides into mush. Oh my goodness, I just want to squeeze them... no pun intended.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

That Ain't Right

Paul Brians' website, Common Errors in English, tells us all those things we thought we were saying right, while the grammar freaks around us were snickering. To be honest there were several in the list that I did not know. Shame on my English major self. Here's a preview of some of the most interesting ones:

“Cache” comes from the French verb cacher, meaning “to hide,” and in English is pronounced exactly like the word “cash.” But reporters speaking of a cache (hidden hoard) of weapons or drugs often mispronounce it to sound like cachet—“ca-SHAY” —a word with a very different meaning: originally a seal affixed to a document, now a quality attributed to anything with authority or prestige. Rolex watches have cachet.

A greedily hoarded treasure is a hoard. A herd of wildebeests or a mob of people is a horde.

The standard expression is “buck naked,” and the contemporary “butt naked” is an error that will get you laughed at in some circles. However, it might be just as well if the new form were to triumph. Originally a “buck” was a dandy, a pretentious, overdressed show-off of a man. Condescendingly applied in the U.S. to Native Americans and black slaves, it quickly acquired negative connotations. To the historically aware speaker, “buck naked” conjures up stereotypical images of naked “savages” or—worse—slaves laboring naked on plantations. Consider using the alternative expression “stark naked.”

Frankly. Sentences beginning with this word are properly admissions of something shocking or unflattering to the speaker; but when a public spokesperson for a business or government is speaking, it almost always precedes a self-serving statement. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” is correct; but “Frankly, I think the American people can make their own decisions about health care” is an abuse of language. The same contortion of meaning is common in related phrases. When you hear a public figure say, “to be completely honest with you,” expect a lie.

“Xmas” is not originally an attempt to exclude Christ from Christmas, but uses an abbreviation of the Greek spelling of the word “Christ” with the “X” representing the Greek letter chi. However, so few people know this that it is probably better not to use this popular abbreviation in religious contexts.

R.S.V.P. stands for the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît (“reply, please”), so it doesn’t need an added “please.” However, since few people seem to know its literal meaning, and fewer still take it seriously, it’s best to use plain English: “Please reply.” It is a mistake to think that this phrase invites people to respond only if they are planning to attend; it is at least as important to notify the person doing the inviting if you cannot go. And no, you can’t bring along the kids or other uninvited guests.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spirals spirals spirals

Spiral PlantThis link, the Spiral Gallery, has an interesting assortment of spiral photographs. I can't find any background information or project details. I think someone ripped them from Flickr and pasted them into this collection. There isn't much over there other than a thumbnail compilation, but I recommend taking a quick peek. You will find a bunch of really cool spiral photographs.

Spiral SnailFor some reason, looking for spirals in ordinary life reminds of searching for the five bars in those Verizon commercials. There is something gratifying about finding order in nature or pattern in chaos. I really like the idea. It is fresh, simple, and collaborative--my favorite type of art.

Spiral StaircaseI am thinking I have a few spiral images that I have taken myself over the past few years. I can think of at least two. I may or may not be motivated to post my findings sometime the in future. But until then enjoy those over at the Spiral Gallery.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Break

Whoo. It's officially spring break for me. There will be no bikinis, beaches, fruity drinks with umbrellas, sunshine, or anything else that is normally associated with the college phenomenon known as Spring Break. I will be hanging out at home trying to get stuff done--namely ceramics and an American Lit paper (not to say that I have ever participated in the common notion of spring break revelry). Hopefully though, I will have the chance to do something fun. We shall see.

But in good news, or rather really good news, I got a call this morning that I answered with a grogy hello. It was a professor from Boston University who was on the application review committee telling me that I have been accepted to the Department of Communication at BU. Whooo. I am quite pleased.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Click-ity Clack

Ever wonder what other people are searching for on the Internet?
Ever stop by your favorite search engine and think, gee, what should I type in here?
Ever think that maybe you aren't searching for the 'right' things?

Lady Bug Computer MouseIn case you answered yes to any of those questions (or even if you didn't) is a pretty spiffy idea. It lists the top several most popular clicks at over 15 hot websites, like,, Google News,, Youtube, and is a snapshot of what people are clicking on around the Internet right now. A single page with the latest news and stories from some of the Internet’s most popular websites.
Doesn't look like there is anything profoundly interesting right that this minute. I guess Internet searchers are disappointing right now. Get to your search engines and promote better links people. I want quality articles.

PS. I also want that ladybug computur mouse. It's just too cute to stand. Mine is boring right now, and I need a giant red bug to wrap my fingers around.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Exactitudes is an interesting art project created by two Rotterdam artists, Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek. Their website says about them:

Inspired by a shared interest in the striking dress codes of various social groups, they have systematically documented numerous identities over the last 13 years...They call their series Exactitudes: a contraction of exact and attitude. By registering their subjects in an identical framework, with similar poses and a strictly observed dress code,
Versluis and Uyttenbroek provide an almost scientific, anthropological record of people's attempts to distinguish themselves from others by assuming a group identity. The apparent contradiction between individuality and uniformity is, however, taken to such extremes in their arresting objective-looking photographic viewpoint and stylistic analysis that the artistic aspect clearly dominates the purely documentary element.

This project clearly defines my interest in people watching. People are so interesting, and the only way to notice is to observe. Some of the most peaceful moments of my life have been sitting on the steps in front of a national monument in whatever country or city watching the way people dress and act. People are amazing.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sure, we don't need that napkin

Bread Basket Last night we took Tami to a nice restaurant in Carlisle for her belated birthday. Our waitress was um, interesting. She messed everything up from mango versus a creamy dressing to our dinners.

At one point in the evening, she carefully stuck her hand in the bread basket, unwrapped the bread, pulled the napkin out, put the bread back in the empty basket, and wiped her hands on the napkin. Midway through doing this she looked up to find us all staring at her thinking, "what is she doing?". She had that face of a deer caught in headlights, like she just realized that it probably wasn't a good idea for her to wipe her hands on the bread basket napkin. She quickly laid the napkin back down on our table and walked away. We stifled giggles. How on earth were we supposed to take that? She didn't even take the dirty napkin with her. I'm just hoping that it was her first day, otherwise, I don't think there was much going on up there. If nothing else entertained, she certainly did.