Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gym Bag Issues

I do a lot of activities at my gym/workplace. Lots of it uses overlapping gear, but some of that gear has to come home to get washed. I want a really lightweight bag since I bike to work in good weather and I can't just tote everything around. Right now my system is to panic before every shift, pull out the contents of the canvas tote I use as a gym bag, search for whatever part is missing to do my job, and try to put as much of the rest of the gear on as possible so I won't have to bring street clothes as well.

I have some first steps in mind. I think I will heavily use my assigned locker to store things that don't need to be washed that often, like my guard sweatshirt. I am going to streamline my toiletries- right now I use a glass hand cream jar that is rusting to store my shampoo, and the same jar but newer and not rusting to store my lotion.

OPD Physical Ability Test

I am seriously looking into working for the Oakland Police Department, just because I think they are a really good one. They have you take a couple of exams before the interview. One of the tests is to check whether you are likely to be able to complete the Academy physical training. It's not meant to be difficult, but for me it was.

In it, you have to wear a weighted vest and do a timed obstacle course with a fence, serpentine cones, and a dummy drag (165 lb sandbag man that you have to drag 50 feet). I did complete the practice course, but at 8 seconds over the cutoff time. (35 seconds under the cutoff time is considered a very good score for a woman.) The officer who told me I didn't pass told me that if I ran for a half hour every day until the actual exam, I could probably get my time down. I had never run a half hour, but I gave it a shot once, and a couple of days and massages later I could walk around upright again.

On the morning of my exam I felt pretty confident for no reason. I had really started off slow during the practice, conserving everything for the dummy drag, and since I had managed that I thought maybe if I ran faster the rest of the time, I would do better. The entire morning was spent shivering under an overpass waiting in line after line. As I got to the head of the final line, I reviewed my strategy and found it nonexistent, so I just tried my best.

I was too spent when I finished to understand whether 2 minutes and 31 seconds was more or less than the qualifying time of 2 minutes and 35 seconds, but the attendants helped me figure it out by saying "Congratulations" and giving me a paper that said the same thing.

So I am presently just barely in baseline shape for OPD purposes, but the interviews are two months out and luckily I am guarding at a gym, so I have access to a track and weights, not just a pool.

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.