Thursday, May 29, 2008

If I Were A Rich (Wo)man

...I'd be more of a "sartorialist". Some have already read this, but I figured I'd toss it onto my blog here if anyone else was interested.

Name:

Shannon Wood

Job?

Student

Best sartorial advice from parents?

I always asked my mom if I looked ok before I left the house. She usually answered that I looked beautiful. I think that’s the key thing. Not necessarily beautiful always, but something that makes other people smile, which reflects back on you. Or that gives you confidence enough to make whatever you’re wearing look great to other people, even if it isn’t. Does that make sense?

Style Icons?

I don’t think I have any. I just like stuff I see on people that wear it well.

Describe your personal style.

Practical, simple, pretty, comfortable, etc

I build my daily look around…

My schedule for the day and the weather. Mostly the weather.

Personal style quirk?

Modesty always. If something isn’t modest and I really like it, I’ll find a way to make it modest. I used to think that kind of thing was tacky, but since I was missing out on so much awesomeness, I’ve humbled myself.

Favorite designers?

I don’t know any of their names or anything, but there is some marc jacobs stuff I have liked in the past, and lots of other things. Not devoted to any one in particular, but picking and choosing things from various places.

Most cherished item?

Clothwise, my dark Old Navy jeans. Otherwise, my computer (for music) and a nicely bound notebook, waiting me to fill its pages with whatevers.

I feel best wearing…

Jeans and a comfortable top, pretty or just nice.

The first thing I look at in another sartorialist’s outfit…

Combination of pieces, and their skin tone/shape/etc so I can see if I’m able to copy it. I never copy though. I just get ideas J

I never break this fashion rule…

Try something at least once

I always break this fashion rule…

Trends

I’m never caught wearing…

I hate it when something has the same thing on as me. That makes me go further out of my reach the next time around. I like to be different.

Dress to impress who?

Myself usually. Everyone else gets too picky.

Shine your own shoes?

Haha. I don’t have shoes to shine.

Shoetrees?

No.

Favorite stores?

Cheap ones. Charlotte Russe, Forever 21, Pomme, etc. I like Old Navy’s and Joe’s Jeans. I also like tons of online stores like Delias, Layers, Down East, etc.

Your next ‘must have’ purchase?

I need the new coconut verbena lotion from Bath & Body works. And maybe new jeans from Old Navy J

Most underrated item in menswear/womenswear?

Hats, definitely. If only my head weren’t so big.

I skimp when buying…

Almost everything.

I splurge on…

Random stuff that happens to be cheap in my eyes. I got a really cute half-sleeve brown coatish thing with brass buttons for like $10. It’s probably not the best fit, but I love it. I get decorations too: posters, knick-knacks, what-have-yous. I’m trying to cut down on that though, since I don’t have money to spend on splurges.

Favorite item of clothing?

I like my 5-year old maroon Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie. I hardly wear it in public anymore because it’s getting ratty, but I love to wear it around the house to keep me warm.

Guilty pleasure?

Underwear. I have lots of it. More than necessary, probably.

Cologne and skincare?

Right now I use Hollister’s ‘August’—it’s ancient and I’d like something a little less heavy. I want to try the Redflower Champa roll-on perfume because it sounds pretty and it’s organic and roll-on, so I don’t lose so much of it to the air and my clothes. I don’t know what it smells like though. For skincare, right now I’m in a rut. I’m using stuff from Arbonne for my face, and I like it because it smells like orange cream soda, but it isn’t really working for me. I’d like to try the line for my skin type from Pangea Organics.

Most stylish city?

From what I’ve seen, I like the styles of London. I haven’t experienced it first-hand though, so I can’t really say.

When I was in high school I wore…

The same pair of pants with alternating Hollister T-shirts. Boring. I also wore my ubiquitous black pea coat that I loved to death. I still have it, but it’s all stretched out now, and worn down at the elbows. I need a new one.

Sports?

I don’t play sports. I watch them, and that only for the atmosphere of family/friends getting together to have fun. I like watching people root for the team.

Favorite fashion magazine?

I used to like Vogue, and I like the combinations they show in clothing, but they’re too worldly. I like Lucky and InStyle too, one of them has a thing where they show all the different outfits you can make with like 6 pieces of clothing. It inspires me.

Favorite vacation spot?

So far, Hawaii. I didn’t like Cancun because it smelled, and all the places in the United States (continental, obviously) aren’t anything special. I have lots of places I’d like to visit though.

Favorite neighborhood restaurant?

I like Piccarelli’s, but it gets bland if you eat their too often. I like that their bread is sweet. Back home, it’s Great China for sure.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday To You

My birthday lasted kind of three days. Maybe four. Maybe all week. Anyway, my birthday was on Wednesday, and this is how it went:
I woke up when I felt like it and Kevin made me a tasty breakfast (Justina too, since she was still around) and I opened my presents with Mom on speaker phone so she could participate. I also noticed there was a slightly melty cake sitting there. These are my gifts: (mostly books--one on Florence &Tuscany, one on Greek artifacts, and one on Ancient Rome, Greece, and Etruria. The close up is of the last one. I also got a light house and a pretty sign thing from Justina)

Then Kevin took me to the mall and told me that he would pay for whatever I wanted. We went to all the cheap stores and I got like 5 shirts that each were all under or around $10. What a steal. Then, because it was incredibly windy, we went to Heartwell Park

to fly the kite

and harass the geese.

The kite flew pretty well. So well, in fact, that we got bored with it being up there after about 15 minutes. But we both had our turns flying it, and it was a lot of fun.
video
video
Then we walked over to the nearby pond and followed the geese around.
video
They were more interesting than the ducks. One goose had an afro.
video
Then we left because it was really, really windy, and we were both pretty tired from walking around all day.
Upon our return home I gave myself a lovely scented scrubby foot bath. Then I changed my clothes, Robert came over, and we all sat around and chatted until Justina came home from her final so we could go to olive garden. We all got tasty food (I got the ... pasta with chicken in some kind of garlic sauce....). I opened the present Justina and Robert got me (it was a kid's cookbook with tons of fun recipes we're all excited to try). Then we sat around being full and ordered a thing of tiramisu to share. To my (not really, because I saw Justina informing the waitress) surprise, the tiramisu came, along with half the waiters in the restaurant, who proceeding to sing an interesting birthday song that had a line or two in Italian. It was pretty cool, especially since I've never been sung to in a restaurant before. The tiramisu was delicious, and we left a tip that consisted of $12, a coupon to the golden spoon frozen yogurt place, and a coupon for butter at Vons. It was pretty fun. We took off so she wouldn't be able to say anything about the unusual tip. Apparently though, Robert does that sort of tipping quite often. We all went home and had cake, then went to bed.
The next day I woke up too early and went to my English final. I finished it in about 30 minutes (twas an in-class essay about Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language"-- which is interesting, if you get the chance to read it). I had to fight the urge to vomit most of the time, however, since it was early and I hadn't eaten breakfast. Then I went back home, packed up lunches for Kevin and me, and I went over to his house and sat around for a depressing hour and a half while he constructed the perfect birthday card for Chris Olivares. Then we went to the Post Office and mailed it, and FINALLY were on our way to California Adventure.
When we arrived, it was cold, and Kevin had mistakenly forgotten his jacket. We ate lunch right away and went into the gift shop outside the park to see if there were a cheap jacket Kevin could purchase. He changed his mind after seeing the price tags and we walked out of the store.
It was pouring. We walked back in to take a second look. After several frustrated minutes Kevin decided on a cheap gray long-sleeved shirt he could wear underneath his T-shirt.
We went to the entrance and saw hordes of people leaving.
"Are they closing the park?" I asked, saddened more by Kevin's bad attitude than the rain.
"Yes, it looks like it," he answered.
"No they aren't, let's go."
So we finally made our way in and were pleased to see that the rain had frightened off a majority of the Adventurers. We decided to make our way to the raft ride first, since we were already completely soaked. We walked right up with no waiting and were sitting in the raft a little before I was ready. We shared it with two bespectacled women who were hobbyist white-water rafters who told us we should try the real thing and got me a little interested with their conversation.
Before I knew it, the ride was over, and I was anxiously awaiting the dry, warm change of clothes I had been intelligent enough to bring (and even more glad I had thought to force Kevin to bring a change of clothes as well). I was saving my jacket for after the raft ride, so I was chilled to the bone. We waddled to the bathrooms (my pants were falling down with the weight of the water) and took our time changing. I was sad I had worn sandals.
I tried to convince Kevin to come on the roller coaster with me, but he was turned off by the loop. So I went on it twice by myself (single rider, able to avoid the crowds).

Kevin agreed to go on Mulholland Madness, which he hated. I did too.
Then we got in line for Soaring over CA, and Kevin chickened out at the last second, which was really annoying, since it's not even scary. At all. It's just an IMAX movie with scented freezing cold air. Anyway, we left shortly thereafter because Kevin wasn't going on any more rides and I was worn out with the rain and trying to get Kevin to ride stuff with me.


But first we went to the Boardwalk Cafe or something so Kevin could have his bread bowl. I got a croisant and some hot chocolate. Tasty. While we were eating a little boy came up to us and told us to be quiet because the dragons above us would wake up. (The eating area was at a closed-down chinese restaurant) He then proceeded to inform the rest of the people eating, finally being halted by a nervously smiling father. It was funny.
The next day I don't remember what we did except that it rained almost all day and after dark Robert and Justina were present, so we decided to watch "Signs". It was fun, especially since Justina gets scared so easily (which is strange since as a child she was a tomboy whose favorite movie was "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle"). Oh yeah, the reason Robert was over was because we had just gone to see "Prince Caspian" and ate at Rubio's.
Saturday we went to Disneyland. It was the first time I'd ever gone and not went on Peter Pan (that I can remember). We went on all the good rides (and then some). We started with Indiana Jones, then went to Astro Blasters. Justina and Robert were with us, and the shooting picture of Kevin and I didn't work for some reason, so here is theirs instead:

After that we went on Space Mountain because the sign said it was only 40 minutes. It turned out to be about an hour of screeching children that probably had consumed too much sugar right before getting in line. It got very tiring standing there for so long, so Justina and I convinced Kevin and Robert to be gentlemanly and make us a chair.
After Justina sat, I did, and then we were done, even though it was nice to not be standing for a minute. We chatted and found out that Mr. Duffin, an Ag teacher I had in high school, lived in Miraposa (where Justina grew up) and taught her in Ag too. We had the same opinion of him. Small world.
After Space Mtn we went in front of the castle and sat down on a bench to eat lunch. We then went on Pinnochio, where I explained to Kevin why the little boys turned into donkeys, and got in line for Haunted Mansion...
...and afterward met up with Ian and Kristina and went on Pirates of the Caribbean. Then Justina and Robert left so they could do laundry and eat inexpensive food, and Kevin and I went on the Mattehorn with Ian. Then we went and found Thomas (Kevin's brother) and Elias and other friends and had a very expensive Caesar salad at the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. Kevin and I met up with Chris Franco while Ian went on his rides and we went on Alice in Wonderland. I don't think we went on any more rides after that, because I was very, very tired, and we left shortly after saying goodbye to Chris.
Monday Justina and I went shopping while Kevin had a recording session for one of his compositions. Then we went to a Memorial Day BBQ at Robert's house. We met his brother and his brother's friends and I ate Honey Teryaki chicken, homemade potato salad and lemonade with whole raspberries in it. VERY tasty. Then everybody left and it was just us 4 again, so we went to the Ralph's down the street and bought brownie bites. We took them back to the house and had brownies and milk while we watched Fantastic Four (the first one). When it was over, Kevin played piano for us and Justina and Robert told us their engagement story. Then the night was over and we went home.
Yesterday we came back to Fallbrook and I had a cardiologist appointment in Murrieta. I drove myself there expecting (finally) some answers, and what did he tell me? I have no heart condition! Wha??!!??
Yes, folks, I'm healed. I still have symptoms and whatnot, but they are things that happen to everybody. Why do I feel them every day and you do not? Because my nervous system is just more highly developed than yours, thank you very much.
In any case, I feel like this has pretty much been one of the best weeks of my life. I am happy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Love the Whole World

These videos make me happy, make me realize how cool the world we live in is:




Monday, May 19, 2008

Ready? Ok.

For my final essay in English I chose to write on the origins of the phrase "Okay." It was rather difficult to do, especially since scholars (yes, highly educated people actually spend time debating and researching this sort of thing) can't seem to agree on the exact origin.
But it's not like this is my senior thesis or anything, just a 4-6 page essay for Eng 100.
Here 'tis: (Don't bother with the funny format-- it's weird transferring from word to the internet)

“You know this language that we speak,
is part German, Latin and part Greek
Celtic and Arabic all in a heap,
well amended by the people in the street
The Choctaw gave us the word ‘okay’…”
- Peter, Paul, and Mary “All Mixed Up”

A very commonly used word in the United States today is “okay.” Without it, people would have to resort to all kinds of words and phrases to accomplish the same purpose, such as “that’s fine,” “I am in total agreement,” or “I see what you mean”. The word is not only in popular use in America, but has spread to Great Britain, as well as dozens of non-English speaking countries. It sometimes acts as a one-word lingua franca between natives and English-speaking tourists. Its widespread use is usually attributed to previous British or American occupation of a country or from the pervasive influence of American cinema.

Dictionaries define “okay” or “OK” as “all right”, or a form of approval or endorsement. But where did this incredibly commonly used phrase originate? Rumors abound as to its real origin, including that it came from the Scottish saying “Och aye,” which is their way of saying “ah yes,” or the Greek “Ola kala,” meaning “it is good”(What Is, par 1). Still others say it originates from the saying “aux Caye,” referring to a port that exported a brand of rum in Haiti that was particularly good (OK). It is also sometimes attributed to an abbreviation of a Russian saying “Ochen Korosho,” meaning “all is well.” But these proposed origins are hardly supported by linguistic evidence (Okay, 2.2). Two other proposed linguistic sources that are not as far fetched come from African and Native American languages. The West African language Wolof has the expression “waw kay,” meaning, “yes” (Okay, 2.2.3). It is possible that slaves brought over from West Africa used the term “waw kay” in their native language to respond to requests or commands given them in the United States in their places of work (The Origin, par 14,16). The term may have caught on and been put to use by those who heard it. In the same fashion, the Choctaw word “okeh” or “oke,” meaning “it is so,” may have been used to express agreement: those who heard it spoken in correct context put it to use, just as any new word is articulated into one’s vocabulary. Although it is possible that these words were incorporated into American culture, it is not likely that one specific word would be responsible. It is more likely that these possible sources worked together to spread the popularity of the phrase, and did not act as its origin (The Origin, par 15). Tracking the history of the expression shows that it has been exported from America, instead of the other way around.

Some proposed origins lack historical evidence. For example, the idea that the word originated from a term used in World War Two to denote no casualties in a battle—from “Zero Killed” to “0K” to “OK”—is incredibly untrue, since the term had first been sighted in print almost one hundred years earlier. Others say it comes from the initials of Obadiah Kelly, a railroad inspector, who initialed approved documents and such. However, there is no accurate evidence that any such person ever existed.

There are two proposed historical origins of the abbreviation OK that are widespread among the American public. The first part goes back to 1840 and the re-election campaign of President Martin van Buren. Martin van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York (The Origin, par 10). To gain support from the working class, the campaign managers decided that calling van Buren “Old Kinderhook” would be a nice idea, arousing the home-grown feeling when van Buren was referred to. Supporters and rivals alike put the phrase into frequent use, shortening it to “OK” for ease.

The second popularly proposed origin has to do with another United States President—Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was known for being the real “home-grown” president. He grew up in the countryside. It was said that Jackson was a terrible speller. A rumor began that Jackson spelled “all correct” as “oll korrect” (or various other spellings)—and that when he initialed documents, or checked them, he would write “OK” for “oll korrect”.

However, the nickname “Old Kinderhook” is not the source of OK, nor is the spelling, good or bad, of Andrew Jackson. The term “oll korrect” most likely has its origins in the late 1830s during a peculiar craze of purposeful misspellings and abbreviations (What Is, par 3) in Boston newspapers, particularly the Boston Morning Post. The fad began with the comical misspellings, and was followed shortly by the abbreviations. For example, “no use” was first misspelled “know yuse,” and then abbreviated “KY.” “Enough said among gentlemen” became “Nuff said ‘mong jentlemen,” and was abbreviated “NSMJ.” Additionally, the paper used "Bosting" for "Boston" and "Vell vot of it!" for “Well, what of it!” The most popular funny spelling was “oll correct” for “all correct.” The phrase was then abbreviated to “OK” (Okay, 2). This usage in the Boston paper predated van Buren’s campaign by a year.

It is the complex history of the word OK that makes it so difficult to pin down any particular origin. Whereas the van Buren/“Old Kinderhook” theory was so popular only until a short while ago, the theory that the Choctaw word has much to do with the origin of the word OK is even more popular, especially since some believe it has more fully and accurately been proven (Fay, par 5). On the other hand, although there may be some coincidental connection to the West African or Choctaw versions of "okay," it is possible that linguists who are arguing about the origins of "okay" today have forgotten about or are unaware of research done by linguist Alan Walker Read. Read determined that the real source was the "oll korrect" theory. In a series of articles, Read showed that "oll korrect" predated "Old Kinderhook" by a year or two (Etymology, 2). He also showed that Andrew Jackson not being a very good speller was not the source. Instead, he cited numerous Boston newspaper articles, from the years 1838 and 1839, using abbreviations as well as purposeful misspellings noted above. The newspaper even provided readers with “translations” of their abbreviations, and included “all correct” for “OK.” Whether the newspaper jokesters got the idea for their comical abbreviations from the Choctaws, West Africans, or if they made it up themselves, the evidence is clear that "oll korrect" is the origin of the ubiquitous saying "O.K." or, as it is sometimes written, "o.k." or "OK" or just "okay." Okay?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

Friday afternoon Kevin and I battled the heat by attending a lecture for Anth 140 (I didn't know this until after I decided to go...). They had air conditioning. Actually, what drew me there was the promise of finding out a little about the Inca and their astronomical practices. The Inca always strike me as being mysterious and magical (an idea inspired probably by the magically secretive Inca I saw in Amazon Trail and Tintin), so I figured this lecture would give me a little truthful insight into their lives. It wasn't quite what I expected, but it was definitely very interesting. Even Kevin was interested-- although he didn't take notes like I did, he participated in the question/answer session after the lecture was over. Here is an overview (for those I invited but couldn't make it--namely Ian and Adrien, since this is their cup of tea):

The "Thirteen Towers" of Chankillo (Peru): Solar Observations & the Legitimization of Power in an Early Complex Society 400 BC
Dr. Ivan Ghezzi

This is Dr. Ivan Ghezzi extracting something at Chankillo. Chankillo was not studied until he had the bright idea to do it, even though people have known about it since the 1800s. He is Peruvian but was educated at Yale. Yup.

Dr. Ghezzi first outlined what exactly an observatory was and what astronomical alignment was. Observatories are places built purposefully to observe solar, lunar, or other celestial occurances. Astronomical alignment is when a building or group of buildings are aligned to fit some celestial occurance (equinoxes, eclipses, sunrise, etc). It may have to do with calenders, religious celebrations, or whatever, but it is on purpose. A lot of the time archaeologists see that something could make sense one way, so they decide that that is how it was, and all evidence they find they make to fit their theory until it doesn't work anymore.
For instance, the main guy (can't remember his name, but he also worked with Dr. Ghezzi on the Chankillo project) of archaeoastronomy has proved that Stonehenge has little to nothing to do with astronomy of any sort. It is not a calender.
I'm still having a hard time believing this, but I guess I should take the word of the educated man. Also, the Nazca Lines, the giant drawings people think are either calenders or ancient crop circles, are neither. When examined closely, the lines are oriented in virtually every conceivable direction, so there is no way they could be a calender or anything like it.
It made me start thinking about other places, like the tilted archway thingo at Tulum that the sun shines through only on the morning of April 6, but I'm pretty sure that one is still on purpose. It's just too much of a coincidence.
(This is a guy holding a picture of the sunrise at Tulum. The actual building is difficult to find a picture of...) Actually, there it is on the left there:
Anyway, the point is that the ruins at Chankillo are definitely purposefully astronomically aligned.
Specifically, it is a Solar Horizon Calender. This means that a distinctive horizon is either found (natural landmarks, etc) or created (such as Chankillo's case, with the man-made towers). The horizon is then used to mark specific alignments with the sun in the sky for whatever reason, be it religious, or just to mark when the harvest should be. In Chankillo's case, it is more than likely religious, as well as social, but I'll get to that later.
Chankillo has four major components.
They are: 1) The fortified temple you see up in the top left of the photo, 2) the western (known as the sunrise spot, because you can see the sunrise from there) observation point and complex, 3) the actually 13 towers, and 4) the eastern (sunset) observation point and "party" complex. The fortified temple Dr. Ghezzi didn't really talk about, except to point out that there were big fortifications around it, which is a little unusual for just a temple complex. The Western Observing point is pretty interesting. It consists of a building with 18-foot tall walls around it, a narrow passageway on the south side of the complex which opens up into a three-foot tall wall area. From there you can see the towers. This is the observatory. On the Eastern side, the observatory is less well preserved (surprising, especially since the west side was almost obliterated by a massive flood), but you can make out the observation point. There is also a big complex just south of it where they uncovered offerings of shells, vessels (for beer and stuff), and little pipes (like musical instruments). This side is for the common people, where the celebrations were held, and the reason the West side is so fortified is because it was for the social elite. On the west side there were found "warrior figurines"-- clay figures with fancy nose, chest, and neck jewelry. These guys were not just pawns you put at the front of the battle to get killed off, they were important people. Only they were allowed on the west side of the complex. They were special.
Anyway, so what's so special about Chankillo? Why is it interesting? Well, there are thirteen towers. From the east side observatory, on can only see 12 towers, since the last couple move towards the west and actually overlap just enough to make the last one unviewable from the east. On the west side, all thirteen can be seen, but a mountain, known fondly as Cerro Mucho Malo, appears in the distance just to the left of the first tower. What is it? A natural 14th tower perhaps? It appears so. Dr. Ghezzi did a study of mapping the sun throughout the year in reference to the towers. What did he find?
That at the west side, the June solstice was marked between the mountain and the first tower, the December solstice was marked just to the right of the 13th tower, and the Equinox was marked dead center. Interesting! And, so you know, the June solstice was the time of the Incan Harvest Festivals.
(This is the sun rise on the day of the June Solstice--you can see ol' Cerro to the left there...)
The sun takes about 10 days to move from tower to tower, but spends about 2 weeks on both the first and last towers. So in a way, it's a bit like a calender with a 10-day week. Every now and then there is some time left over that needs to be accounted for, so that is why the thirteenth tower is there (this part I don't really understand, because what about the mountain? Is it optional because it isn't part of the physical complex?) which can act like our modern Leap Day. Somehow.
Anyway, so what if it's cloudy one day? Everyone knows that Peru's coast is consistently covered with fog and cloud cover (okay not everyone, but now you know). The valley this place is on the edge of has two rivers that empty into the ocean. I'm not really sure how any of this works actually, but basically the clouds stay in the valley for some reason and don't come up to the ridge where Chankillo is. Chankillo is known as the "Place of Eternal Sunshine" or something fancy like that. But basically, it never gets cloudy. But the rivers are there too, so it's a greatly abundant area. Perfect for the Inca to settle down in.
Well, that's basically it. It was a pretty interesting lecture, like I said, and it was nice to get out of the heat for a couple of hours. I think it got up to 101 or something on Friday.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Love Music Mommy

I am excited for a lot of things coming up in the next few months, but one of the ones less celebrated (because it's furthest away and I don't want to get my hopes worn out) is the release of the new Keane album in September.
Ahh!!! I'm so very thrilled that they are all doing well. When they go on to tour I'm going to make it a point to be at one of their US concerts. Probably in LA. We shall see. I really like this picture of them though. It's cool.
In other news, John came down/up to visit, and spent the night. He lived in Sacramento for a couple of years going to school at American River College or somesuch. Then he decided it was boring and that he'd had enough. So next Wednesday he ships out for the Navy in Illinois. I guess it's more like flying out, and don't ask me what the Navy is doing in Illinois anyway. But he's going to be there for about 2 years. Eventually he's going to be a cryptology technician (the fancy term for codebreaker), which I think is very cool.
He came to our choir concert Tuesday night, only heard half of it because his girlfriend decided to call him while she was incredibly drunk, enjoyed the half he did hear. Then we made pizza (not delivery, Digiorno) at like 10:30 and then Kevin and John left to go to bed. When I woke up I called John and we had bagels together (Kevin had already gone to class), then I went and took my Archaeology final (which I ACED except for when I forgot the word Tetrapylon!!! ERGH!!!). Then we all had lunch and hung out for a while until John left at 1. Justina took this picture, and it's the best of a couple of tries, since we were all feeling rather silly.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Your Lautrec or...Lautrec's Lautrec?

So Megan has been pressuring me into putting pictures of the few paintings I've done over the past couple of months, and here they are. It's a little bit interesting to see the slight development. In case you wonder, I paint on primed canvas I get at the University Art store with Acrylic paint I get and Wal Mart and the UA store.
Here is my very 1st ever acrylic painting. I set up a chair with Justina's towel on it. I really don't like this one. It's so blah, and mom said it was creepy. It's a little true. This is on our desk-turned-magazine-table (we don't drink coffee, and since if you open the big drawer you'll find about a thousand magazines, that's just what it is). I like how all my furniture is either white or paint stained. Except for the kitchen table.
This is the second one I did. I rather like it, although it seems like there's a major mess up in each painting. See if you can spot it in each of them. This one is hanging on the wall abovethe couch. The picture is crooked.
This is the photograph the painting is based off of. It was taken from the top of Diamond Head on Oahu by Dad. I love the color of the water, something I couldn't quite get in the paint.
Sorry this one's sideways, it looked/fit better this way. Just tilt your head. I like the bottom half of the painting. The top of the door and the address # is basically cripe. C'est lame. I like mixing colors better, which is why the pot/cactus/sidewalk was fun.
The photo it's based off of-- one I found when I looked up "colorful door". There was another one I should've picked, but it'll be fine.This one is the one I did today actually to give to mom for mother's day when she comes up tomorrow. I really, really like it. I'm very pleased, except the stoopid shadow of the boat gave me tons of trouble.

...And the photo it's based off of. Obviously I took the engine or whatever out, as well as the tassles on the prow/bow/whatever, and widened the ocean. La.
That is that. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"I Can't Dance"

Genesis never sang truer words, in my case at least. And I really, really cannot dance. But I thought I'd let you in on my humorous pain that is my ballet dance project.
There are a lot of reasons I've discovered ballet is not for me:
  1. I don't know if it's my low blood pressure defect or some unknown cause (or that I'm just a klutz), but I have a very difficult time keeping my balance. I get dizzy at the slightest movement in the wrong direction.
  2. I can't turn, especially quickly, to save my life. Probably for the same reasons as above.
  3. My back always hurts. Maybe it wouldn't if certain cracking practices were not currently being...practiced...
  4. I believe my arms are too long. There's actually a way to make up for this (by crossing your arms over each other instead of doing the "O" thing everyone is so familiar with), but I can't do that because...
  5. My memory is shot. Or very small at least. I had to look in my book to know what everything was, even though it's been drilled into me over the past 5 months. Pathetique.
Anyway, try not to laugh too hard.

video
I guess until I solve those five problems I'll never be a really good dancer. Actually four since the arms thing isn't really a problem in other dance styles. So four things. I'm not giving up though. I'm going to attempt ballroom at some point, and I am considering taking Beginning Flamenco this coming Fall semester so I can be like Zorro.
Until next time, buddies.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Far Dish

Dishes are a terrible thing when you don't have a dish washer. Actually, any time they're dirty and not clean. This is what the kitchen sink area looked like before:
...And almost two hours of scrubbing later:
Obviously I have yet to put them away, but the deed is finally done. And let me tell you, it was gross at times.
I have had an important revelation-- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich wrapped in a paper towel is pleasantly soft and squishy, yet fragile. Like a newborn kitten.
Experience it for yourself. It's true.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What A Gneiss Chert You're Wearing Today!

As promised, details of my trip!!

So the day began actually the night before with me packing everything up nervously checking and re-checking everything, making sure I had all my wipes and other cleaning things. We then made a run to Vons because I forgot food for dinner that would actually be able to be eaten at a campsite.
Anyway, that night I didn't sleep I was so excited. The next morning I woke Kevin, to his dismay, early enough to be at school at 7:30. No one was actually there when we arrived, so we sat in the car as other people arrived and finally the bus. Then Kevin left and we all got on the bus. I had a seat comfortably to myself until the guy everyone decided is a dead ringer for Joaquin Phoenix had to sit in my window seat so two incredibly annoying girlfrieendz could sit together in front of me. So I didn't really get to sleep on the bus either.
We watched some incredibly stoopid movies, including "Broken Arrow", "Demolition Man", "Talladega Nights", and "Transformers". We didn't actually see the end of any of them actually, except for Talladega. The only one I actually enjoyed was Transformers, so I think I'll rent that so I can see the last half.
Anyway, so we were scheduled to go to various locations throughout the Mojave Desert, camp the night at Calico (the ghost town), then spend the next day in Rainbow Basin nearby. Things didn't really go as planned though, as I will tell you...
Our first stop was Pisgah Crater, a cinder cone volcano caused by extension in the crust due to tectonic movement in the San Andreas and other faults (I won't go into too much detail). Anyway, it's inactive and probably over 10,000 years old. We traipsed across the incredibly hot fields of sharp, wobbly lava flows searching for a fabled lava tube said to have a register at the end of it for those who'd completed the incredible journey to sign their name in.
We found probably 6 false tubes that were actually just caves, until finally our teacher (known affectionately as "Charles Fair", both names together) found the entrance to the tube. Not everyone went down, but those who did had quite an experience. You had to slide in on your back or belly and carefully make about a 5-ft drop to another slim entrance. Once in, you had to watch both your feet (being careful not to trip over old lava flows) and your head (there was a very low, sharp ceiling in some places). I didn't have my flashlight with me because Charles Fair neglected to tell us we would need them, (actually a lot of people didn't have them, which will prove fateful...) so I tagged along with an army girl who was intelligent enough to bring hers with her. We helped each other through the long, dark tunnel until we finally made it to the end, where I signed the register "I'm not claustrophobic anymore!!" which isn't true, but it made for a more interesting entry than just my name.

When I got back out, it was still incredibly hot and sunny. I also noticed there had been a few more casualties other than my tunnel partner rolling her ankle on our way out. One girl had fell off the first ledge because she was wearing her sunglasses and couldn't see (they were prescription so she didn't want to take them off). She ended up getting a divet in her knee and scratching her arms. 'Scratch' and 'divet' are a bit of an understatement actually. There was blood all down her leg and arm. Another guy who had been just behind me in the tunnel had banged his head about 5 times along the way came out with a little bloody patch on his scalp. Another girl twisted her knee. But the ultimate injury was in a guy who had no flashlight and was following a little behind his partner with a flashlight. "Hey wait up," he called, and his partner (Joaquin Phoenix, actually) shone the light, but at the guy's feet. The guy took only a few quick steps and hit his head so hard on a low part of the ceiling he was knocked to his back. When he got out there was blood all over his hat, seeping through and getting darker the longer he sat there.
In any case, as soon as we were done at the crater and the evil tube of doom, we had to bypass the rest of our stops for the day and swing by the Barstow County Hospital...
...so the divet girl could get cleaned, stitched, and bandaged, and bleeding head guy could get cleaned, stapled (yes, 4 staples to the head), and tetanus-shotted. It took all of about 4 hours. Towards the bus driver took some of us over to a bus depot for "refreshment" (more like half the guys decided to take the opportunity to get tons of alcohol). Amanda, one of my pals, and I were asked to watch some lady's dog while she went to the bathroom. The dog's name was Rusty and was pretty cute, although a little wary of us.
Here is a shot of the depot, which was composed of numerous old train cars:
Then we went back to the hospital to pick up the stragglers, Charles Fair, and Staples, who went with us the rest of the trip, providing great amounts of applause upon his entrance into the bus. We drove over to Calico while it was still light and tried to set up camp in the 70mph wind. Then we went and explored the hills and ruins, then came back, built a fire, ate dinner, chatted for hours, then I went to the tent and read, took a walk with a veteran stripper turned professional geologist and talked about stars (I saw a shooting star!), then I went to sleep. Well, I tried to. In the morning we had breakfast and waited for the bus, which finally came, so we packed up and were on our way. The first slide show is camp-related stuff and the second is our explorations.


The first stop on our second day was to Rainbow basin, which was incredible, but also incredibly hot. We hiked a mile into the basin along a road through towering green formations. The rock is green because it cools in an anoxic environment, which is without oxygen. Some parts were red, which is when there is oxygen present in cooling. The namesake of the basin is a syncline of red and green rock, which supposedly looks like an upside-down rainbow. A syncline is rock layers that folded into a U (or V in this case) under compression stress.

Then we had to climb up several ridges in order to map various bits of Skyline Tuff (a common igneous rock that marks fault lines in the area), all the time wondering why Charles Fair was making us climb up all these ridges in order to do something we could've done perfectly well at the bottom of the valley. It was 1 o'clock, everyone was starving, tired, hot, and Charles Fair was still making us map things-- unbelievable!! Finally he released us and we forged our way through the river bed to loop back around to the bus.
After a lovely, lengthy lunch we took a pretty long drive to our next stop, which was yet another lava flow from some other cinder cone. We looked at the polished surfaces of the vesicular basalt (caused by wind weathering and microorganisms) then went to the bottom of the cliff to look at the 10 million year old metamorphic rock that the basalt had flowed onto. There were grasshoppers everywhere, it was rather eerie.
We then went to an outcrop of limestone from when the area was under ocean water. On the other side of the outcrop was a bunch of shale with trilobite fossils in them. I spent 15 minutes looking for the durn things and I never found a single one, even though the guy who told me what to look for found three within the first like 45 seconds. No one else found any either, but the trilobite guy gave me his most complete sample, which was really cool of him, even though I was a little disappointed in the fossil because I was living under the delusion that everything ancient was at least 6 inches long, but this thing was only 3/4 of an inch long, and very difficult to spot amongst the cracks in the shale. But I still have a trilobite fossil. Woot.

We then made our way to our NEXT stop (after being promised we could go home) that was a very large outcrop (actually mountains) of highly weathered granite. It was fairly interesting I guess, but it was a beautiful view, and the wind was bringing in rain clouds. I liked the rock because it reminded me of home. It's actually part of the same giant batholith (cooled magma chamber) that got uplifted that puts the huge granite boulders through all the hills of Fallbrook, Temecula, etc. There were a lot of mating black beetles with orange heads. Creepy.
It was a long drive back, and we got stuck in traffic for a bit in Victorville, but I still made it back in time to run to the Recital Hall to see Kevin's saxophone ensemble concert.
I'm still catching up on sleep and energy lossage from the trip, but it was incredible fun.
Oh, and here's a picture of a half of a turtle I found outside the bus at the Basin: (Just for you)

P.S. The girl in most of my picture is the Amanda I mentioned. The other one you see is Rachel. The big guy in striped pants is Matt (these three were my tent-mates), and I don't know who the other guy is, probably one of the 5 Michaels. He just came with us in our explorations part of the time. We were all pretty closely bonded and friendly in that class. That's part of the reason it was so fun. Anyway, if anyone has any questions about any of the pictures, just ask, and I will tell.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dancing with the Stars In My Own Backyard!!!

Thursday night Justina (my roommate, for those who don't know), had a ballroom dance competition she performed in. She does rhythm I believe, which incorporates I think 6 or 7 different kinds of dances. Maybe just five. Anyway, so the second class was over at 9:25pm, Kevin and I high-tailed it to the Hilton at LAX for her 9:45 performance. After having to park in a $20 parking spot and paying $30 a person to get in (and they didn't allow credit cards, so we had to make a time-consuming detour to the ATM), we rushed into the ballroom just in time to see the last minute or so of Justina's dance. Its actually several couples all in the same division that perform at the same time, and are judged separately. Justina's partner's name is Tom I think, and he is a professional, but Justina is amateur, so they compete in the amateur division. But let me tell you, they are really, really good. It's quite amazing.
That's the flier for the competition. The following videos are just to give you a taste of what she does, which is awesome.
Here is a couple doing the Rumba (these are show dances, so it's just one couple)

And here is Justina's favorite couple, Yulia and Maxim, doing the dance they performed at the competition she competed in in Ohio last November...

And here is one of her favorite couple that I like a little better, mostly because she isn't wearing a chicken outfit.


Speaking of outfits, that was a very "interesting" part of the evening. Kevin and I talked about the outfits to discern between couples. There was the "ostrich", the "seaweed", the "flamingo", the "tassel", and a bunch of other terrible ones. Being scantily clad isn't necessary for the sport, but you know how it is. Maybe.


I'll post more later, about my Geology camping trip, when I get the cord to put all the pictures I took onto my computer. And let me tell you, there were lots of pictures.

P.S. Since there is a random video in there of Carmina Burana (even though I'm pretty sure I deleted it when I first put it in there, and now it won't go away...) let me tell you about that.
Our choir, plus the university choir (we're the 49er chorus, woot.) and the Camarado Singers (?), plus the entrance of a tiny children's choir from some (possibly Catholic??) school in LA, accompanied by the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, performed Carl Orf's "Carmina Burana-- Cantonines Profanae" or, Profane Songs. The directors kept joking that we were singing an hour and 5 minutes of sex, drugs, and rock&roll. It was more like frivolity, ale, and...singing...
In any case, it was a huge hit (I threw in the video so you could hear a bit of what it sounds like in case you've never heard it, but the video is not of us).
It was the first time in the history of performances in that theatre and in the history of the LB Symphony Orchestra that it was completely live, that is, no audio enhancement whatsoever. Basically, it was really loud. But it was amazing, and we got a REAL standing ovation, not the fake one your parents give just cause their so proud of their kids for making an effort, but a real, live, everyone-pops-out-of-their-seats-the-second-the-director-cuts-us-off kind of standing ovation. It was an amazing feeling to sing that song, although it wasn't amazing to be standing for 6 hours in a claustrophobic and acrophobic (for me, at the top of the platform with my back to a 15-ft drop with nothing but a wobbly rail to hold me up should I fall) situation practicing all 20-something movements of it. But the performance was nice :D