Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Moving Home

On trips, everything seems so special and exciting. Taking a trip to my old hometown mixed that excitement with nostalgia and now I am itching to move back. The trip was for an interview, so moving back was already on my radar, but oh! The tiny dumpsters, the tiny libraries, and the friendly strangers were all wonderful. I had a nice time being a tourist in Oakland, it was just so vibrant.
 I was trying to sketch this tower at Ghirardelli Square so I took this photo to help me frame it. I felt like the height of the streetlamp was really interesting but ultimately didn't finish the sketch.
I am familiar with the idea that graffiti is undesirable, but I feel the hypergraphic urge when I am in overly sterile environments.., seeing evidence that other people feel the same way makes me feel at ease. My high school had a "graffiti table" where we could write our feelings, to keep the school building cleaner, and then someone put swastikas on it and we got to have a school wide meeting about that. And everyone cried. I don't tag things but I do install microsculptures and of course there's the car.  
This is a parking meter. I am charmed that I will have a couple of 35 cent purchases on my bank statement. 

The lifeguard interview went badly-- HR didn't tell anyone to meet me for it so I had to wait around, which is a really bad sign, the practical portion was perfect until I was supposed to perform CPR and couldn't remember how--but I will keep looking because I feel so strongly drawn back to Oakland. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wax your car with beeswax, maybe.

After years and years I picked a name for the submobile. It's the Knotilus, in the punny tradition of boat names, because I think it's funny that it's a fifteen year old car but is faster than a top of the line military sub. It goes top-of-the-line-military-sub-speeds in third gear. (In case mariner stuff isn't your forte, I'll mention that knots are like miles per hour, except nautical miles per hour.) I tried to lay out the lettering myself, but it was a disaster, so Dad did it for me. Sign painting is really its own specialty, and my drawing and painting skills were no help.

I intended to letter it with enamel, but there was none at the craft store. Instead I chose a permanent paint pen. The paint pens were in a locked cabinet, so I asked for help opening it, and the woman I asked didn't have clearance so she went to get someone else. While I was waiting I figured out how to open the case, but I didn't do it because I didn't want to be rude. I selected a color called Brilliant Blue, which looked like it would match my rims. On my way up to the counter, though, I noticed that it was marked "flourescent" and that wouldn't do. So I got to break into the marker case after all, to swap it for black.

I don't know if it's clear in this photo, but the lock shank is so long that if you turn it sideways it lets the plexiglass doors swing out. 

I'd started to refer to the car as "my eyesore" since the coat of paint from 2011 got really dull and wouldn't take a second coat without flaking. It was so dull that the doors had fingermarks from where I closed them with lotioned hands. That gave me the idea to coat it in linseed oil, but before I had a chance I found an old chunk of beeswax and on a hot day started buffing it onto the car (before and after, above). I am really pleased with the initial results. Right now it is coated with pollen, I think I can preserve the surface by washing it when it's cold out, then parking it in the sun once it dries off. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cosplay as yourself: Hivemind

 At work we have to wear radio earpieces. We don't like them because they hurt to wear for 8 hours. I don't like mine because customers think I am on the phone, when really I am greeting them, or think I am talking to them when really I am checking on something for them. Sometimes customers hear one side of a radio game and think one of us is unstable. So we all prefer to use the radios clipped to our belts without the earpiece attachment. I got the idea of playing up the transhuman/cyborg aspect, and ran it by my boss, who said, "You can do anything you want with it." presumably because that would be one fewer person to scold about non compliance with regard to the earpieces. (as an aside, I am about the quietest, least deaf person on staff so the earpiece works better for me as a transmitter than the radio does, so I do wear mine when it's not lost.)

Anyway, I read an instructable about fake sugru and was all over making my earpiece into an upsetting biological thing. The first iteration is pictured above. It looked a little Neverending Story special effects in person, so I scrapped it and used a latex glove to make a wrinkled one, but it was too shiny and bulky so I trimmed it down and put on a lot of tendrils for the current iteration.
These are the supplies, except the top is some other cyborg things I was thinking of coating. Like, can I open a sealed house, write, or slice things, except when augmented? But ultimately I have not had time to mess up my hairdressing scissors or anything. Cornstarch, the kind of silicone that smells like vinegar when it cures, a half credit card wand for stirring, and a colorant. I used eyeshadow most successfully. The foundation pictured combined with the white cornstarch to be too bright for my skin.

So, cosplay. I don't think it's proper to spend more time thinking about your presentation and garb for an annual event than you spend, total, day to day. Or to have an idealized avatar and a whatever self. Sometimes I want to cosplay a Katniss braid but I just tell myself, spend that energy developing your style. So I have purple streaks at my temples and I am medium buff and I never wear pants. I get that doing it this way doesn't connect you to other fans, but my planner is covered in royal blue goatskin and literally I am wearing a dress subduction printed with inaccurate dollar bills. Also not to be too intense but I drive a submarine.

I was going to write about the mechanism of the hivemind but I am pretty tired. In essence, I am the unit able to be gracious with the fifth person of the day who wants to tow without a vehicle equipped for towing, and I can read the scheduling log, so I am the user interface bit. I draw extensively on my coworkers, via radio, for information about where a person might find any given replacement bit for a trailer, who truly needs electric brakes, and then all the regular corporation stuff, where one person is apprised of a weird situation but it's not me.

Right now I am training two of my coworkers to man the counter, to make myself a bit more obsolete in anticipation of starting substitute teaching this term. They are both great and competent, but kind of passive. Like one is three years my junior (so should be running circles around me when it comes to computer things) but waits for me to direct everything she does, and the other is like a finance guy who maybe has forgotten 10-key. Jump in, guys, literally all the mistakes are recoverable.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Forays with Adobe Illustrator

 Well, I followed some Illustrator tutorials and finally stopped doing this with the pen tool:
It turns out you have to draw everything with rectangles and ellipses that you stretch out and combine. 

I made this worksheet to take to work. The U-Box shipping has a lot of components- the cross-country shipping, local shipping, and rent on the box plus insurance. I'll print some of these out and be able to give out a cohesive quote. This took two extended sessions of drawing rectangles and trying to get the proper rectangle in front. As someone who already put in my time learning to draw, this was excruciating. 

I have found one easy trick so far. It turns clean pen and ink sketches into vector sketches. In the object menu, scroll down to Image Trace and then select "Make".

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Good Riddance to Endless Summer

 I got really tired of life guarding! But I don't have to do anything about it (except find a new job) because the season is ending. When I got this job, for about a month I couldn't believe how easy it was and how nice a second paycheck was. Since it's obviously seasonal (and this pool is closed for half the year, so it's not like they could keep me on if they liked me) I felt preemptively sad for impending fall. I loved having people listen to my instructions, getting trained to teach swim lessons, sitting in the sun, and eating free sno cones, and I didn't want it to end.
 Cut to August, where I am very nearly off the schedule but still dreading the few shifts I do have. We're on the third aquatics director of the summer and this one is terrible. Last week there was a fire at the pool. I am tired of tending children whose parents can't be bothered. I want people, even kids, to take responsibility for their own safety. My parent-tot swim lesson is supposed to be cancelled since it's just one student, but it's not, and the parent wants me to teach ISR but I can't because I don't know how and also she doesn't want to put her baby underwater. I don't want to listen to 60s and 70s beach music (except the Beach Boys) any more. I am so ready for fall and my next thing.
I wish I could hold on to this lesson, that endings are often a relief and nothing to dread.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reusing Zip Ties

I have a friend who is really into zip ties, like he uses them like a book strap to hold his items together, and mends things with them. He has special reusable ones, which made me think there must be a way to reuse zip ties (this was one of my pet projects when I was little, and I never succeeded) and it turns out all you do is push the locking tab out of the way of the teeth. And then the next day at work I had to unpack a pallet of dollies and was able to salvage all but one super industrial tie (it was on too tight). To avoid hurting myself I unpacked the pallet really, really slowly since each unit of dollies was unbalanced and heavy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I got a free sticker.

I found this on my car this morning and I was so offended. I know I'm abusing the visitor parking, so I only park there when retrieving my car from a tow yard seems preferable to waking up at 5:30 to shuffle the cars so my landlady can leave for work. I like rules, and this notice is so sloppy that it made me feel like the parking enforcement person is not competent. It says "NO OVERNIGHT PARKING," but the sign just says "VISITOR PARKING ONLY." And also I was not parked there overnight, but from 4:21am to 8:47am. And also it says my car will be towed at 7 AM, and it had not yet been towed at nearly 9. And also "TODAY" is not a date.