26 August 2008

Apparently I'm an "enviromaniac"

I listen to Marketplace on NPR religiously, and yesterday's show had a segment that I loved. Kai Ryssdal (whom I heart) started off the segment by mentioning that some people identify themselves as "red" for Republicans and "blue" for Democrats, but how there might be a new color in the political spectrum - green. "That's me!" I thought. They went on to talk about offices in which people are designated the "green cop," and although I have not yet achieved badge status in my part-time job or studio, I am a fervent recycler and constantly encourage people to use public transportation or bikes.

So if anyone wants to refer to me as an "enviromaniac", I'm fine with this. Just for the record.

25 August 2008

EnviroHint #3b: ...Reuse...

Last week when I started this project, I began by cutting out the pieces that I thought I was going to use, in the corresponding sizes, and then I started to pin things together. I (wisely) walked away for a few days, thought about it, and did some Google searches for inspiration. When I came back to the bag, I decided how I wanted to do things, and the construction will be fairly straightforward. Not necessarily easy, but straightforward at least.

So this is a picture of the panel of the bag with the graphic from the t-shirt sewn onto the side. This is the whole point of the project so I went ahead and got that out of the way. Next to it is the strap, which I folded, ironed, pinned, and then sewed on each edge. I will come back to this later.

This is a photo of the reverse side of the bag with a big pocket that I made. I'm a fan of pockets and I couldn't imagine making a bag for myself without one, so I did. I attached it to the patterned fabric because it is more sturdy than the green corduroy ... all told, both fabrics are quite heavy and this won't be the lightest bag in the world, but it will be one-of-a-kind. This photo also shows the attachment of the fabric together at the top this is the only edge of the panels that will be exposed.

It's difficult to explain how I'm putting the whole thing together, so I'll include photos in the final post after I finish it, but the final step will involve sandwiching the edges of the panels between the two fabrics on the strap and then sewing the whole thing together. This will be the hardest part of the whole bag and I'm a little leary of how skinny it is so I haven't started yet but soon enough! I always finish what I start :o)

19 August 2008

EnviroHint #3a: Reduce.....

The last time I blogged about a clothing salvage project, the Los Angeles Times copied off me a few months later. (Incidentally my version was for those ladies who prefer to have their whole bottom covered, not just half.) Undaunted, I present to you another constructive way to keep a favorite item of clothing in your life by repurposing it and giving it a new use. This will be Part One in a ?-part series ... I've just started and I don't quite know how long this will take, or when I'll be done!

So I have this Threadless t-shirt that my old roommate gave me a couple of years ago. I absolutely love the graphic on the front ... the big "ball" of city plus the tree on top. However, I've never been able to wear it comfortably, mainly because of what goes underneath the graphic when I try to wear it. So I decided to save it.

I knew I wanted to keep the graphic, but what to do with it? First, let's cut it out.

I use that pink marker because it's easy to see on anything and it's got 3 different tips.

I decided at this point that I would put it on the side of a satchel that I made. My roommate suggested maybe putting it on the back of a hoodie, but I'm not all about spending money lately and I didn't have a hoodie that I wanted to violate like that. So I rummaged through my cache of fabric spares and found not one, but two fabrics that I wanted to use. I will make a reversible satchel! How exciting! Below are the beginnings of the panels that I started to cut out.

It should be said that somewhere in between that last picture and this one I realized that I didn't really know what I was doing and that this might take a while. It's OK - I mean, I know how to measure and how to sew, how hard could it be, right? Putting it together will be the easy part, but getting it to be really reversible will be tricky. I think have all the pieces cut out though, including a pocket and the over-the-shoulder-sized handle (below).

Stay tuned for what happens when I try to put the whole thing together!

18 August 2008

FYI: the wonderSphere is not interested in your anonymity.

Call me exceedingly irritable lately - it would be the truth - but I've recently instituted a policy of only publishing comments on my posts from people who identify themselves, either by their Blogger ID or in the comment. I realize that some people are afraid to provide any link to themselves on the internet, but the truth is that a Blogger ID hardly gives me any information about you; it doesn't even allow me to email you. And if you don't have a Blogger ID but I know you, then you won't be afraid to tell me who you are by signing the comment. I apply the same philosophy in Facebook ... I won't add or engage you if I don't know you. Basically I think that if I'm putting myself out there with my posts every week, people who respond can at least have the courtesy to identify themselves.

We can now return to our regularly scheduled programming....

13 August 2008

You know what's awesome? The Olympics

There are so many things to talk about with these Olympic Games, one hardly knows where to begin, so I'm going to start off with Michael Phelps' daily diet, because it's amazing. The other day on NBC, they said that Phelps is supposed to eat between 8,000 - 12,000 calories a day. Every day! That's ridiculous! They also said his typical breakfast looks like this:
  • three fried egg sandwiches
  • a five-egg omelet
  • a bowl of grits
  • 3 slices of French toast
  • three chocolate chip pancakes
It's official, I'm going to start swimming.

Ok, so in all seriousness, the real story in this Olympics, besides Phelps of course, is China. As in, look at that awesome Olympic park China built. As in, look at those 15,000 performers that China used in the Opening Ceremonies. As in, holy hell, those road cyclists are racing next to the Great Wall of China. There are disturbing stories as well, like the father-in-law of the American Men's Volleyball Team coach who was stabbed to death while on a tour on the first day of the Games. Or the fact that Joey Cheek's visa was revoked because the Chinese didn't like his work on behalf of refugees in Darfur. Or the fact that the young "ladies" on the Chinese gymnastics team are probably actually middle-school age children.

And now, despite the fact that they are the world's most populous country, China is having trouble filling the seats in their venues. Some less reputable sources seem to think that people are staying away because of China's human rights record and lack of "freedom." The mainstream media is blaming ticket scalpers - some of whom traveled to Beijing from Houston, Texas, of all places - to rip people off on tickets to the events. The real reason may perhaps be a nuanced combination of both situations.

There are so many reasons to fault China's stifling politics. Its record of human rights, the fact that it quells dissent so fiercely, its lack of a free press ... and no one thinks that a government should massacre its own people, as China did in Tiananmen Square less than 20 years ago. But I like to think that with this Olympiad, China is trying to show that they are becoming worthy of sharing the world stage. Many times in history, governments of major world powers have made bad decisions that resulted in unnecessary loss of life (cough cough Iraq cough cough), but this being the Olympics, we have to rightfully put aside our past grievances and move forward. No one is suggesting we forget the protesters at Tiananmen Square, but maybe we can honor them, just a little bit, by showing up and giving our best in the world's most public sporting arena.

And whether you buy this line of reasoning or not, it seems a little irrelevant at this point. What does it matter what we think when China is becoming more prosperous, their people have jobs, and the country is functioning reasonably well under the Communist government. One can scarcely imagine how they might govern a country of 1.3 billion people, because one can scarcely imagine that many people to begin with. America has a hard enough time holding elections in a country of 100 million voters, how would a country of 1 billion voters go to the polls? (Hanging chads, anyone?)

That said, this is a mighty impressive Olympics, and whether you agree with the politics of the host country or not, you can't discount the effort of the athletes who are breaking records daily. And you have to admit, the Opening Ceremonies were pretty bad-ass. If you don't think so, why don't you try to get 2008 dudes to do Tai-Chi in a perfect circle and get back to me?

12 August 2008

On Hypocrites

I had several things that I wanted to talk about on the blog today, not the least of which was another "EnviroHint," but actually I think I need to get this out of my system first.

I can't quite figure out why men in high-profile politics think it's OK to have extra-marital affairs in this day and age. Maybe it's because it used to be so easy for their predecessors (Thomas Jefferson? FDR? JFK?). Maybe it's because everybody was doing it (Newt Gingrich was doing it while he was trying to get Clinton impeached for doing it). But it's really just the men, isn't it? And it's not limited to one group of men geographically or a certain age group...but it really does seem that the higher the podium they put themselves on, the farther they fall.

I was shocked when Eliot Spitzer admitted to hiring a prostitute. Mainly because the guy was so righteous in his political life, you'd think he was a living, breathing moral compass. Not so. And now there's John Edwards. Talk about disappointing. Here's a guy that I thought was so noble, and such a family man....and he depicted himself as such, and his wife supported this image as well. And I could not be more disgusted with this guy. And for me, and for many others I imagine, it's not because we care who they had sex with or whatever...it's just that they weren't honest about it. They were hypocrites. Looking back on the long line of American philanderers in politics, I can't imagine a bigger hypocrite than John Edwards (except for maybe Gingrich). At least Bill Clinton didn't tour the country, while running for president, and talk about a lack of morality in our society. And Edwards had the gall to emphasize, in his interview on ABC, that his wife was in remission. How tacky!

I thought about trying to post a list of men here who had affairs while in office or running for office, but I decided that I don't care. Because when it comes down to it, I don't care who you sleep with, but if you have such poor judgment in the first place, and you continue that poor judgment by trying to cover it up (when everybody knows you can't anymore), you don't deserve my vote, or anyone else's for that matter.

08 August 2008

An excuse to post on 08-08-08

The Olympics began today in Beijing at 8:08:08 pm on the eighth day of the eighth month in the year 2008. The Chinese believe - as I do - that the number 8 is lucky, in part because "their names sound similar to words that have positive meanings" in Chinese. So ,while I love that the Chinese really embraced their "eight-ness", if you will, what I find ironic is that according to the Chinese calendar it may actually be the year 4705. No eights there!

Read about the number 8 here, and have a look at why everyone is getting married today here. (Many years ago, probably 8 even, I decided that I might like to get married on this day. It's good to have goals but I guess I didn't try hard enough, LOL)

More on 8s from the NY Times.

And finally, today is exactly 2 months before another "lucky" event...my birthday! :o)

07 August 2008

My Happy Place

Many eons ago, several of my college friends and I traveled through Europe for 3 months. About halfway through, I started experiencing travel fatigue. It wasn't that I wanted to go home, it's just that I wanted to stay in one place for more than 4 nights in a row, I think. Anyway, one afternoon, on the train from one gorgeous place to another, it was raining and gloomy outside, but in my cabin I decided to sketch my happy place. A "happy place", for those of you unfamiliar, is a mythical place that you go to in your mind when you need to be calm. Incidentally it's from the movie Happy Gilmore. But I digress.....here is my sketch from that train ride. (Disclaimer: I was cold, tired, on a train, and perspective was never my forte.)

Funny how the house I conceived in 15 minutes on the train was half Arts-and-Crafts, half Neuschwanstein. And all weird. Anyway.

Fast forward to this past weekend, when I went to Seattle to visit one of my traveling buddies from that same trip for her birthday. I've been to Seattle before, for business, but it was hard to get a good sense of it on my own and not knowing where to go or what to see, and in a limited amount of time. This weekend reintroduced me to it, and I dare say I may have found my happy place. Observe:

Now there's no goofy house in the foreground, thank goodness, and there's no flying cars (not my fault) but they look fairly similar, you have to admit. And of course when I drew the sketch I knew what the Space Needle looked like, and I think I included it because it was iconic. But everything else is there....the trees, the hills, the skyline, the architecture. And as a bonus, Seattle has a behemoth volcano looming over it just to the south. I think Mt. Rainier exists to keep the city humble.

Suffice it to say that my reintroduction to Seattle was magical. It's a truly lovely city, populated with nerds and bikers and bookworms after my own heart. Their hipsters even remind me a little of the grunge types that started Pearl Jam and all of the great alternative bands of the early '90s, when I really started to love music. Er, as a baby. In the early '90s. *cough cough*

So here are a few more photos of my "happy place." I am such a lover of cities, it's wonderful to revisit one with a refined sense of what makes a city truly great, and find that it fits the bill in all categories. Well done, Seattle.

In the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library

At the locks....like the bridge in my sketch

Mt. Rainier is still huge, even when seen from my airplane window