Tuesday, June 16, 2009

About returning to Oakland

I have lived:
Costa Mesa
Newport Beach
Oakland (actually I have an Emeryville zip code, but we are in Oakland beside the Berkeley border so there are signs saying "Welcome to Oakland" all around so I am sure I live there.)
Santa Cruz
That isn't a lot of places, but I nonetheless feel that I would like to live in the San Francisco bay area for my adult life. There is just so much here! (I am mainly comparing it to SC, of course, because that is where I lived from 18-20) For example, to direct people to my home in SC I would have to use the university main entrance as the orientation point. Because it is mainly the only thing around, you know? But in Oakland there is a giant public sculpture I can give as a landmark.

When looking up a picture of it I found some interesting criticisms of the message of it (I think it's self aware and not a slight to Oakland), but I linked to one that seemed more neutral.

Anyway, there are all sorts of nice things about Oakland and the east bay. There are a lot of very nice schools here, such as Contra Costa College (I have my first sculpture class of the summer there in a few hours, and so I can't vouch for quality of instruction yet but the campus is sooo lovely.) but also such as UC, Mills, and the school I am sort of aiming for for grad school (more than 2 years away still), California College of the Arts.

Also, it has got a lot of crime. This is a map of my neighborhood. (I believe if you click on it the words will be legible, but basically each little round arrow is a homicide, color coded for each of 3 years that are displayed)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trailer Project Part 1

Well, the first thing I did when I moved into the trailer was swept out the dust and wiped everything down. Next I removed and set aside the table in the sleeping area (it converts from dining) and the extra cushions, and then I took out the old curtains. They were gathered and sackcloth textured and they made the space more cluttered than it has to be both by pushing into the space a few inches on each side. It looks loads better without them, but on the other hand now everyone- including the neighbors whose apartment building's second story cement corridor overlooks our driveway- can see into my trailer. So, I went to Home Depot and for $7.65 I got a roll of privacy screen contact paper that I think works very well.

That's kind of scary, actually.
But, it is just caused by my harmless lava lamp, which easily dominates this space during the evening
Here you can see how the "privacy screen" contact paper looks. It works pretty well to obscure everything. I had wanted just a plain frosted pattern, but HD had exactly one choice so that is what I bought. I don't think it looks too bad, although it does look like in bathrooms. Also, this is NOT how my trailer will look. This is an old duvet cover that I am using to contain the old smelling couch and protect it from getting little tears, which it will do if you sit on it. Aside from the lava lamp I want it white pink and gray in here. Orange is just too intense I think in a tiny space, although I do really like orange.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thinking about Hunger Feelings

"There is also evidence that their hunger is more intense. Kolata notes that the food-obsessed, sneaky, guilt-ridden behavior of fat people on diets is similar to the behavior of thin experimental subjects who are deliberately underfed. “A lot of thin people think that because they can skip a meal and feel a bit hungry, everyone can do the same,” one obesity researcher tells her. “They assume the sensation of hunger is the same for everyone.” They’re wrong, says Kolata: “Fat people are fat because their drive to eat is very different from the drive in thin people.” link

Wait, really? I am reading a review contrasting two books, not the books themselves and not the studies they're based on, so I am like 3 degrees separated from whatever study they're using, but that is still a very interesting idea. I do not fall into either group; I am ordinary weight. I don't know that I have ever felt intense hunger. That actually sounds like a terrible experience. By the time I start to feel constantly hungry, which is only after more than 3 days off solid foods, I always feel very zen and also sort of tired, and not up to feeling anything intensely. After 5 days without food, which is the most I have ever done, I don't feel hungry in my body at all, but I do start really feeling less with it (kind of tipsy and fragile, and when I did this in winter I felt reeeally cold) and so I stop. So either I don't have the capacity for intense hunger or I feel it as other non-hunger symptoms (like being cold). Oh, wait, my regular hunger (this is such a terrible explanation. I am not making any sense.) is either "hey, it's morning, what is there for food?" and thus not a physical feeling at all, or it is like my stomach feels kind of empty but it doesn't harm me or bother me. Anyway, the point is I do not mind going without food if I have planned on it or am too busy. Going without food because of poor planning or there is no good food available is different because it makes me angry. Well that was a huge diversion from why this is interesting. I know kind of that people experience hunger differently (they have different favorite foods and different meal schedules, so why not different hunger?) but I had not expected that whole groups of people grouped by body weight did notice a difference in their "drive to eat."

The article also says "Likewise, thin people have fewer fat cells, and when they gain weight the cells don’t multiply; they just expand. Partly because of the signals sent by these fat cells, but also because of how those signals are conveyed to and interpreted by the brain, obese people do not feel satiated as soon as thin people do."
Is that true? Signals from fat cells? In an entirely medieval way* I am going to speculate that it could totally be having different kinds of stomachs, because that is where you feel hungry, instead of fat cells because those are all over under your skin (and also you can have fat cells in among your organs, but I don't know exactly what that means or who has that). Oh, I suppose to test it you could ask people who'd had liposuction (it takes out fat with a pump, it is dangerous. Blood you can do because it is liquid and meant to go through veins, but fat I think is solid ish and hard to get out.) whether they felt satiated faster than before. In fact probably someone has done that.

Okay also, I think the second sentence of the quote is worded badly because it almost contradicts the rest of it.

*I like intuitive medieval thinking. Physics was like mind blowing, everything you would expect, like that things are held in their orbit by tiny invisible strings, is totally wrong. If you spin something, say a shot put, around in a circle over and over, it will not remember to stay in the circle once you let it go! It will fly away straight in the last direction it was heading before you let go!!! There's a conceptual problem, where you shoot a monkey, and you have to decide to shoot it or shoot below it, because it is going to fall... and you shoot below it! Because of gravity! It even works on small things that have horizontal velocity. Also? If you shoot up a bullet, it will come down with the same velocity. So you should only shoot at the ground or at targets. Also there was all kinds of amazing stuff with wedges and stuff. Torque. I don't know what all. I should audit a physics class, that stuff was amazing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lichens and Mosses

Here is a terrarium I found online. I have decided to become a lichen enthusiast and do limited work with moss. You see, the whole school is scraped of lichen and dirt at the end of the school year (I suppose it does not grow much during summer, so they do it in spring and it is ready for fall). So yesterday I liberated some lichen from the railings outside the science library. The internet says it takes hundreds of years to grow, but I am pretty sure it grew to cover the middles of these metal bars in just 12 months, so I hope they will grow in a similar time on a tile. It also takes longer to grow from one lichen spore/flake than it does to grow from a lot, which is what I am going to use. They turn into dust when you brush them off to collect them, and then i am going to mix the dust with buttermilk and brush it on a tile from HD. I looked online, and tiles cost only a few dollars so I don't feel bad spending money even though I am trying not to do so lately.

While looking up info about lichens I was reminded of my love for mosses. Mosses need wet conditions, and they die rather than just going dormant, so I have never tried to grow moss but I am very interested in indoor tabletop fairy gardens, in which moss is used as groundcover. I saw this stonehenge online

and I am going to do one in a teacup! Because tea and stonehenge are some of the nicest things in England. I am very, very interested in microgardens as art.
Picture it: A row of 5 different patterned floral teacups, the first of which is a small cottage, then a small school, then a small house, then a large house, then a graveyard.

I think lichen has less potential in that area, but I am interested in a few other effects with lichen. One is that it makes things look old. I think it would be interesting to do a ceramic or cement sculpture that looks very current or depicts a current political figure, and then grow lichen on it to convey the sense that it is quite far in the future, like in the tv show Life After Humans where they simulate aging monuments. Or perhaps I can think of something clever to do with a gravestone. So far the only thing I can think of is buying yours early and then lichening it so that when it goes in there will be an incongruity between the date and the visible aging of the stone. That's not that rewarding or interesting in my opinion. I am a creative person. I can't say this is genius or anything, but it is at least something: lichen grows very well on limestone. Set a long strip of limestone into The other effect I like is that it is alive and very lightweight, meaning that for wall art it is ideal. That is what the tile is for, it will ideally be a set of 3 bright green 12x12 panels in a few years. Apparently lichen can only grow in clean air, so it would be a good indicator of air quality.

I am also interested in moss hung vertically on walls. Google "moss wall" and some of them are stunning. That is more intensive a project than the lichen tiles though because for a medium sized wall hanging I would need to build a frame, buy netting, water the thing often, and then keep it somewhere moist enough.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Contra Costa College

(If this post is crazy coherent it's because I'm in essay mode from my Soc final exam, and if it's not it's because I have been sleeping very short shifts for several days)

I am enrolling in Sculpture 1 at Contra Costa College. Now, three years ago I would have been elated. Highschool students were not permitted to take non academic courses, and incidentally my highschools offered nothing in the way of Art instruction. (I think I might have been more comfortable leaping into the Art major here instead of bouncing from bio to econ to art, or even going to art school, if I had taken a studio course at some point.) However, now? Well, now I can't imagine going back to a community college, as an (admittedly college age) adult. It's almost unthinkable. It's like moving home, or retaking 10th grade history. Why on earth is it happening to me?

Well. It's not complicated, but it's complicated to explain. Basically, the art department here is on a pared down budget. Art classes are very hard to get in to compared to nearly all the other courses at UC, because students from all departments are interested, and also there are a lot of art majors compared to the funding, for some reason. One campus-wide repercussion is that to get your General Education A (Arts) requirement, most students can't get into an art class (not even the three art courses for non art majors, because they are studio sized rather than lecture) so they take theater arts or I suppose art criticism or art history. For art students the low number of spots in courses means that there are additional restrictions placed on enrollment. lower division courses are reserved for pre art students, and once you declare as art you can not enrol in them. This is a challenge because you only take 3 studio courses before declaring, and the upper level courses you can take are limited by which intro classes you have as prerequisites. If you have 3 interests, you're fine. But if, like me, you are interested in more than 3 art forms, or at least want the option of pursuing an interest in another form, you're stuck. For me, I could take another lower div course and just put off declaring my major another quarter, but of course I am very excited to start the upper level courses as soon as I am able. (yet another difficulty is that pre art studio courses are all held at the same time MWF or the same time TThSa, meaning that the most you can take concurrently is 2.)

I carefully went over the course list (all the courses there might be before I graduate) and the course schedule (the courses that are planned for fall and winter) and identified the courses I would love to take before I graduate. The only gap between the lower div courses I am taking and the upper div ones I am dying to take is in sculpture.

So hence therefore hereto forthwith I am going to magically fit in some sculpture credits via community college.

I went to a CCC college when I took Japanese at DVC, so I already had a profile, and I spent a little bit of time logging in. My password hint was "what color is my helmet?" which I eventually correctly guessed was "sparkly". I looked at the fees, even though I know how much they are, just because it makes me happy. It is $20 per unit (down from $26 when I was enrolled and, um, attending for free.*) So, my art course is going to cost $60 plus a $9 materials fee. Summer courses at UCSC are about $1000 each. I bet Sculpture 1 is better here, but probably not 15 times better. CA subsidizes our community colleges a lot better than the UCs manage, I think.,

Although, my username is cvendewalle135, and my student portal is for Caitlin R. Van de Walle. And the course description says it will encourage students to research and sculpt in the style of our own ethnic background, as well as "subtractual" sculpture. At least make sure everything in your description is a word, you know? But it's easy to be too hard on community colleges. They take on a big task. They have to provide courses to everyone from minors to retired folks. And they have to fill a lot of purposes, some of which are mutually exclusive. They have to be suitable for those who are newly learning english, they have to prepare students for work, they have to be the most remedial thing available to adults wanting new skills and they have to get students ready for 4 year colleges. And they have to do it for almost free.

You know, I'm enrolling at CCC without ever having seen the campus? Community colleges fill a weird role.

*I just worked out that since I took ~30 (semester) units, I saved $780. That's pretty neat.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Trailer

So. There it is, my trailer (that is not mine, didn't buy it, title's not in my name, permitted to clean it but forbidden to modify it from its 1971 splendor- and by modify I mean a coat of interior paint, not a hot tub, permitted to sleep in it when I must but not to keep it off limits to the family* when I am in Santa Cruz). All right, not my trailer. The trailer. The trailer that could be easily 6 times better if I were given reign to decorate it. I am really good with colors.

Well, it's a nice neighborhood. There's Jori and Betsy's veggie oil bus. Not pictured because I couldn't manage a good one is Nini and Carl's VW bus, which they sleep in to camp sometimes. Yeah, there are beds to sleep... um... 7 on our driveway. If you count the loft in my trailer, which I don't because it dared to creak, like I was killing it, when I climbed in! I know, it is 38. The screws on the steel tracks are rusty. The wood is old. Still, when you go through life in whatever percentile means 75% of adults are larger than you, it doesn't cross your mind that a piece of furniture is going to give out on you. Then, yesterday, I was walking on the floor of my house in santa cruz and I noticed a part of the floor was dipping when I stepped on it. I am choosing to believe that this is because we are walking really close to the wall to get around the folding dog gate on a part of the floor not designed for weight, and Occam's razor can go to hell.
Yes, I am as long as the trailer is wide. The first thing I thought when I got in the trailer for the first time was "thank goodness I'm small." Because a full size adult, would probably not be able to deal with the size. Although, Jori is full sized and I suppose he doesn't mind the bus. Hm. My second thought, obviously, was "Augh I am breaking the trailer noooo!". Only then (I am falsifying this timeline entirely, for simplicity) did I freak out about the interior. It is brown. Brown, and green, and covered in woodtone veneer, and ugh. It is so bad. It is a little cool because it is all old timey things, like a museum Liz thinks, but I do not want to live in a museum. Unless it is an art deco museum, or a steampunk museum, or a space museum.
I dunno, I can take some pretty good photos I think. That looks so homey, doesn't it? With the roses? Noooo it is an illluuuussion, it looks really dark. I had to take down all the curtains to make it nice. I have been hunting online for all sorts of small space living tips (I adore small space living, but in my imagination I am allowed to use PAINT, also it is not on the driveway, it is off in the nature.) and one of the ones that crops up over and over is to use neutrals, and pale colors to make the space airier and look larger.

Here I am enjoying the trailer. I know this is a pretty whiny post. Some people haven't any trailers to live in, you know. But it is terribly frustrating to be parented so aggressively. My parents must trust me, I am quite trustworthy, but they have not had an adult child before and they don't know what to do. Hint: I have this under control. Today I told my roommate I was going to the library because my computer doesn't open pdfs and he was like "wait, why?" and I said it is because I don't have administrator priviledges and he laughed and asked if it was my computer. I was like, well, it is mine to use while I am in school but my mom bought it. I need everyone to back off if I am going to live at home without moving out to live under a bridge.

I was talking to Dad about how yeah, the trailer needs to be painted. And he said no, and he knows I want to do it but that I will not because I'm not a disobedient child. And I said I'm not a child at all. And he said I am his child just like he is Nana's child. But that he is a disobedient child. And he knows I'm not.
HOW ABOUT THIS: DAD, WHAT IF YOU MOVED IN WITH NANA FOR 3 MONTHS? HOW WOULD YOU WANT HER TO TREAT YOU? I think having had stable parents you can't really know how I feel here.

*When I didn't live in a trailer they were perfectly content not to play in a trailer. When I sleep indoors they are perfectly willing to talk to me to wake me up, but no, now there is something to bang on! Something shaky!

Higher Education

Oh, higher education. That old thing. Oh, it is exhausting, and frustrating, and rewarding to navigate the channels and get credit for learning, and find challenging courses, and oh I am so tired of it.

So. I went to 4 community colleges, which is nearly 4% of the state's community colleges. And I kind of liked it. Some courses validated GEs beautifully (Thank you, English 1A and 1B!!! I would have been dying my way through a Comp 1 and a Comp 2 class, wasting my time, when I really wanted to be enrolled in Astro and Econ!), some just count as "electives", units that boost my class standing (and thus financial aid level as my expected family contribution goes down each grade, and I get to enroll when the year above does (we do scaffolded enrollment with seniors first and frosh last, and I was only a frosh standing for 1 quarter), and also? if I want to take a course that is totally impacted, I get priority at the profs discretion. AND ALSO I WITHDREW FROM A CLASS ONE TIME AND IT IS NOT PUSHING BACK MY GRAD DATE.*

So, on the whole, a fantastic move. One of the cleverer things I managed as an adolescent. But (except Japanese! That is a foreign language with foreign expectations and it kicked my butt on the first go and I managed a B on the second!) by the time I was 16 I thought the courses were very, very easy. They have to be courses that anyone at all can realistically pass if they work hard, and I was working reasonably hard, as hard as I was in most of my highschool courses. Also I had very good attendance as it would be hard to explain to my parents why I could not go to class unless I was actually ill, just like highschool. Anyway, when I graduated Dad wanted me to work and go to community college, to save money. Mom said no, they are not designed for people like me and becausewhen she had attended community college while working to save money she found them completely maddening and she also cited the very low completion rate and so Dad was convinced and I was off to UCSC. I said no too, for what it was worth, because I could not imagine getting an associates and having those instructors and that campus life and those assignments for another year.

And now I have 2 years of UC undergrad behind me (well, on Wednesday I will have) and I am actually maybe going back to community college for summer. It makes me freak out a little, because really they are not intellectually stimulating environments. But OTOH my friend goes to one and she took pottery there and her work is very impressive.

So. We are permitted (I think as a result of impacted pre-art classes) to recieve credit for a lower division studio course by taking the equivalent course at a community college over summer. I am not 100% sure I am doing this, as it depends on whether the accepted courses are offered for the summer term which has less selection than the regular academic year, and when summer session starts (it must be quite soon, most universities let out weeks ago). But yeah, I might be going to community college again, at the age of 20. I really just had this spinal full body spasm shiver from typing that.

If we are permitted to take two courses (the email said one, which seems fair because we are only required to take 3 lower div studios to declare the major, and taking 2 of those at another campus seems like poor quality control) then I can declare as art for fall!!! I really shouldn't do that, since it will be great to spend a little more time with other pre art students and working at the intro, pre art level. I have seen the upper classmen's work at open studios and it honestly to my minimally trained eye looks like the work of professional artists or in some cases grad projects. Yeah, I really really shouldn't so that because then the only studios I'll have prereqs for are drawing, painting, and sculpting classes. (Art students are not permitted to enroll in pre-art introductory studios, so once you declare you kind of can't ever earn another prereq except over summer when the rules are relaxed). So, what this will do for me, if I do manage to find courses, is expand the potential for the upper div studio courses I can take.

I am feeling so excited about my art career. Which, no, it is nascent. Embryonic. But I can see it.
I am looking at grad schools. Well, online, I am not touring them. California College of the Arts, which is 3 miles from the Oakland house, is terribly, terribly highly rated. I think their jewelry and metalwork is supposed to be the best. UCSC has only a tiny bit of metalwork I think. It is more of the welding kind. As I read and reread texts for my finals, I have been burnishing and deforming a little bathtub I am making out of silver. It does not look very much like a bathtub.

*also, of course, they exempted me from absolutely loads of highschool courses, to the extent that the only courses I had to attend my senior year were algebra and community circle time. And I also took some requirements independent study which basically meant minimal work and an occassional check in with a teacher.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sociology and Economics

You know, I think I could have tried harder in Economics if I believed in it more. There would have been basic math to take as a prereq for my real courses, and it is not an easy major (and it really doesn't help that most of the TAs are international students which makes it that much harder to get help, because of the language thing. Not that they aren't competent, but they are basically math students, not really the people to do teaching, and it is very hard to get answers to questions.), but I am an optimist and I believe in social change, and flexibility and everything, and economics (of course, I only took one upper div econ class, and I withdrew from it) is just very rigid. I still think a basic grasp of economics is important to have, and it is scary that people have to set up their lives and make decisions about careers, and housing, and regions to live, without a minimal awareness of microeconomics, and it is very frustrating to listen to people on radio and television who disregard or are unaware of macro and micro economics. Numeracy is important. But, ugh, scarcity? How can there really be scarcity? I mean, theoretically, sure, some things are finite. But our needs are finite as well, and my wants are finite. Surely we can just plan really, really carefully and then it will be a surplus. We had to read, in the class that I withdrew from, these philosophical/logical exercises about how much you should give to the poor, and they carefully proved that you cannot both take vacations, and help the world's poor, and help local poor. Where is the benefit in proving that? Why not just be brilliant, and work through the scarcity? That is what I will do. 

Anyway, the reason I was thinking about this is because in Soc section our guest TA said that sociology is kind of a depressing field because there are so many problems, and I started laughing very quietly, but he called on me to explain. And I said that I had a slight econ background, and econ is ten times less hopeful and positive and willing to look for solutions, and I had been thinking all quarter how engaging and optimistic this course is. 

But it is true that on our overarching timeline for the course, the current era's (On the chart our era is "Reagan and the 'Neoliberal Era'" and our Regime of Accumulation (yeah, I don't know, it is just my job to memorize it in context) id "Post-Fordism/Flexible Accumulation") Economic Shifts are worrying:
1. Recession
2. Mortgage Crisis
3. Credit Crisis
4. Fiscal Crisis

But i don't know, in sociology it's an attitude of "how are people responding to this in their personal lives? How is this changing the intended career paths? Time spent at work? Percentage of people who relocate? How is it affecting schoolchildren? Divorce?" it's just a more exploratory and less prescriptive/blaming way of looking at the world. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yay Blogging!

I am not fasting in any way, but I am existing in a dreamy, intuitive state the way I do on moderately long fasts (to me a 3-5 day fast feels pretty long, only a 1 or 2 day fast is very easy. And I mean liquid fasts not water fasts.). It's fun but weird. I think it is caused by all the work I am doing for my courses, especially Art (I need a B or better in 3 studio courses to declare the major and you only get 4 courses to accomplish that within). Also I have been eating only carbohydrates because that is what keeps longest so I had a lot of it around, and I am trying not to spend money. So for a week I have been eating potato dumplings, pasta, bread, and so on, and clearing out my pantry. I went to safeway for some lettuce but it did not look appealing so I bought a nectarine (No, I know, some people are too poor to buy a nectarine, and I am simply too poor to buy a nectarine except on credit.)(this all is not as bad as it sounds because I am moving home in 11 days and then will eat Mom and Dad's food and have my condo deposit back as well.) and then tortillas were hugely on sale, 2.50 for a stack of like 20 or so burrito size tortillas, so I bought them, and for the last 2 days I have been eating only microwaved tortillas with butter on, and coffee and tea. And I feel terrible. Just really terrible. (I mean also I have been really stressed and caffeinated; it is not just the tortillas.) So I decided that I would buy something from a plant, before I die, and so I did and I bought also turkey meat and strawberries. And when I got home I was too desirous of salad to make the Salad In a Bag into Salad on a Plate. I just stood there eating it from the bag like chips. I didn't even go to the dining table. So, basically, I need to eat salad or I will die. On the drive to the grocery store (it is around 4 miles) I saw McDonalds, and I was like "they have salad there! I should go there!" but I did not because McDonalds is a franchise and that one is gross, also I can't afford it. (Wow. I can't afford fast food. I should have crashed the African American Empowerment Barbecue that I walked past on the way back from Soc section, but I am not good at improvising like that.)

Anyway! I have been in a weird mood. I have been very cold, so I have been carrying a hot water bottle. Like, to class. And holding it in my lap. Wrapped in a scarf. I don't know why not everyone does this, actually, but I know they don't.

Also I have resumed using ALL of my sleep aids. I sleep so poorly if left to my own devices. (that is a very confusing phrase in this context because I am using it to mean "if left sans devices" but I can not think of another one. I am very tired.) That means the eyemask, earplugs, sleep tea, melatonin, sleeping socks and cardigan, hot water bottle, eye blindness gel, and my bottom retainer (it covers my teeth so I can't grind them.). Also my waking up devices, so that I can sleep soundly without waking up over and over again to see if it is morning. The best is my vibrating alarm watch, it is a very non alarming way to wake up. I also set my phone to go off two times because the display is very concrete and so it is very definitely set. I also have an old timey alarm clock with bells and hammer but I don't use it because of Ashley.

I had to explain my art in art class, and I was just in another headspace that I couldn't reconcile to the task of Explaining My Art. "This is the moon." I told my class. "This is a dissected emu." The teacher asked if I felt shy and I managed not to share the theory I have been trying not to develop, that I have gone through intellegence and come out the other side, and that the mind is a tool and doesn't have to be engaged full time. I just said I am not in a thinking mood this month, and so it is very hard to describe the whys of my art. (the art, um, it is not that good. I really like it but it is very mechanical and dull. It is about space, and monsters, and machines, in the gentlest most nursery wallpaper way possible) Our professor is very forgiving of this type of thing (she is a professor in the Art Department) so with prompting I managed to share how I was feeling when I created the art, and why I picked the subjects I did, and I talked briefly about my interest in Science Conceptual Illustration. And illustration is not really an art, as such. and I am taking an art course.

Oh! In Astro today our prof talked about the possibility of other sites of biology in the Universe and he showed a lot of concept art by a woman, Lynne or Lynette Cook, that illustrated a variety of possible permutations of small and large potentially water bearing planets. And some Aliens, like dragonflies and sentient Europan Carp and plankton. And while he was telling us about this artist, he said she was emotional, like artists tend to be (and I got angry. Ahem.) and therefore she goes through phases, like "painting volcanoes on moons, and stuff like that." FUN FACT: VOLCANO PAINTING IS NOT AN EMOTION.

Also he said >7% of stars have potentially water bearing planets, because we have surveyed 320 in our area and our sun and one other have potentially waterbearing planets. 2/320/=7%, but there was something about how we can't detect loads of planets because of view angles of tilt for their doppler shift.

Then he showed us a list titled Top Ten Questions For Aliens, which of course was a list of 7 questions he would like to ask aliens. He told us we could think of the other three ourselves. He told us that because our civilization is quite young, and our earth of course, sentient life we encounter will likely be older and more advanced than us.

I don't know if I want there to be aliens. I think no. I want not to be in a war with aliens, and I think it is perfectly likely that whatever they were like we would fight them, even if they looked like kittens made of snowflakes and were incapable of creative thought, we would get mad or threatened and fight them. I also want not to be alone. The elegant solution here is for us to locate habitable worlds and go inhabit them, and over time their biology will splinter in exciting ways, like giraffes. Not giraffes, we have those, but exciting developments like them. Like... I don't know... oh, yes, A TINY TINY PANDA! And when different species get sentient, some of the species can go to a new habitable world, not to exclude them but so that none of the sentient life is dependant on a single star for species survival.

You know what is beyond scary, scarier than The Nightmare Room, is if I accidentally went to the sentient shark world. Or got exiled there. Oh, man, it would just have bare landmasses, with no terrestrial plants, just plankton fed on by oceanic sheep (because I am sure seals and such will go sentient prior to sharks' doing so) and giant clever sharks. And I would just starve on a barren rock. I don't know why it is scarier doing that on Sentient Shark World than in New Mexico. But it is a LOT scarier.

See, with it all developing we can encounter things gradually, as they emerge, and develop thinking and ethics and such. Whereas the snowflake kittens would just be an insane adjustment and we would kill them to make them gone so everything could be ordinary again.

Did you know there are Ring Worlds? They face their sun like the moon faces us, and so one side is always in darkness (too cold for water) and one always in light (too hot) and so there is a little band, where maybe in a canyon on their Prime Meridian it might be the right temperature for life. How weird it would be to be able to travel all the way around your strip of the planet with no climate variation and the rest was uninhabitable. What mythology might you develop with the Hot Land and the Cold Land? I suppose our earth is similar with the equator's climates and our uninhabitable poles, but it feels different. Because your world would be 50km (I do not know the real estimate.) from side to side, and massive! in the other direction. Also I think there would be no night. I suppose there could be no day instead. (one of saturn's moons spewed water while Galileo (the satellite) was photographing it because the tidal forces from saturn liquefy the ice because of the pressure, so I suppose the night side might be warmed a little by the forces and more habitable than the slightly warmed + irradiated already day side? I do not know.)

Today I got a midterm back in Soc section, and I did not recognize the essay. Not the topic, not anything. I read through it to see if I remembered anything of writing it, and the quotes looked familiar but I did not remember writing it.

I can not essay at all. I wrote an essay about it. Yes, I really did, in Sociology today during the review session. You see, we were told that we must prepare outlines for essays on the following 4 topics, one of which we will essay about, and they must be 5 paragraph essays. One girl raised her hand and asked if we were very confident of our ability to write a more academic essay did we have to stick to the format. The professor said you can write a very sophisticated essay within the general format, and that if you'd like to do a different form it's up to you but it must be high quality. And I felt annoyed by the girl. Because I can write reasonably good 5 paragraph essays because it is not really writing. You look at the words, you think of the answer, you recall the supports, and then instead of making a coherant, quick list or diagram, you drag it all over so that the grader has to skim to get the points rather than just have them leap into their eyes. I love diagrams and flowcharts. But right, what I meant is you can do it on autopilot, you aren't like, "is this truly compelling?".

My TA really doesn't like my essays. Obviously they are not memorable, or anything, but I know words and I know facts, so you know. Essay! Bang! Sparkles! -->22/30. Nice.

My right arm is tingly and cold, but I heard you are only dying if it your left arm.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pageant television

I am watching Little Beauties on VH1. Here is a more informed analysis than mine, since mine is based on watching the end of a show. It is a show about 5 and 6 year old beauty contestants and their mothers. It is a very strange phenomenon. I think the way the moms treat their girls is very strange. Also the moms are not what you would expect. Some of them are average weight but most of them are overweight, and here is this conformy beauty thing they are sort of throwing their energy into. And they have very plain, strange clothes, sort of frumpy, with their girls in gowns and ruffled swimsuits and giant tiaras. I actually can not tell the pairs of tiny blond girls and frumpy women apart so I can not follow the plot of who is winning or the favorite or what. Also, and this is not at all the main concern with this hobby: how clever is it to teach your daughter that an attribute is essential and valuable, when you yourself are lacking that attribute? No one is supposed to think they are a princess, right? Princesses have to be taught humility and grace, or their public will not love them, and when they get older they will not be good advisors and rulers. And these little girls are a little bratty, I think it is bad for them to be in pageants. "I look better than they do" whines one little girl when other girls place above her. Her mom tries to placate her, instead of telling her she loves her or something she agrees and shushes her.

I was a little girl in a bathing suit once, and I was not put on a stage with false teeth (to hide the gaps from missing baby teeth) and a spray tan, and I think that was for the best.

Thinking very much about art.

I am in evaluation/absorption/focus mode. Hugely. I have completed today's scheduled studying, had enough energy to do the art that was scheduled for tomorrow morning, and now I still feel very focused and productive but I have excused myself from studying until 10:00 am tomorrow. In addition, I do not feel very creative and can not think of anything to do. My computer is still on so by rote I went to google and typed "ucsc" and now I am reading about the junior transfer requirements. It is very... strict. I have omitted a few parts but this excerpt is still very long.


The Art major at UCSC is a very popular major. This means that there are too few spaces to accommodate all the UCSC students who wish to study art. Because of this ongoing situation, the Art Department admits junior transfers to its major by way of a portfolio review. Many students who are accepted to UCSC will not be selected by the Art Department as art majors.

In order to select its students, the Art Department appoints a rotating Portfolio Review Committee.

In general, the presented visual materials are of primary interest to the committee. The Portfolio Review committee expects these materials to be adequately documented and to be carefully and clearly presented. The committee consists of a group of experts in their fields, and their expertise includes an understanding of how to interpret visual materials. They are skilled at "reading" the visual evidence presented in the portfolio and in detecting, by looking at slides, for instance, the commitment and accomplishment of the applicant. They have an expertise in understanding how works of art come about both conceptually and in terms of skill, and they have an expertise in understanding where beginning artworks lead in terms of future developments. When disagreements and uncertainties arise in the visual materials, and the potential of the applicant in our program is uncertain, added weight is given to written materials (statement and transcripts/narratives). Thus a determination is made.

What Does the Portfolio Committee Look For?

Your portfolio of slides, photos, video or website introduces your work to the Review Committee. The Portfolio Review Committee is looking for students who demonstrate skill, personal direction, ambition, and commitment.

Students who wish to improve their prospects for acceptance often ask the following: What does the committee wish to see? What presentations make a favorable impression on the committee? What things make an unfavorable impression? The committee is looking for vitality, commitment, and skill, or signs of potential for the development of these things.

VITALITY: By "vitality" the committee means they want to see evidence that the student is excited by the work. They want to see evidence of this quality in the work itself.

COMMITMENT: By "commitment" the committee means that they want to see that students have invested themselves in certain ideas, ways of doing things, or ways of conceptualizing their creative work, and evidence of a willingness to spend time on individual projects and/or on the body of work contained in the portfolio. They also want to sense that students can exert judgment about their own work--that they can tell good from bad in their own work.

SKILL: By "skill" the committee means that the student demonstrates a level of technical ability in one or more areas and that the student does not require remedial work that cannot be provided by the department.

Portfolios Should:

  • Show a range of work produced in your art classes
  • Focus on quality as opposed to quantity.
  • Indicate time spent to achieve a strong resolution.
  • Show thought given to the generation and execution of the work.
  • Show attention to use of materials and processes.
  • Provide evidence of exploration in form and technique.

Portfolios Should Not:

  • Show work of low quality along with work of high quality.
  • Include high school work unless it is truly exceptional.

Written Statement

Your written statement is considered an important part of the portfolio. Evaluation is based upon signs of a student's potential for joining theory and practice in his or her creative activity.

While criteria for evaluation are difficult to measure in art practices, the written statement helps provide a basis for evaluation in each area.

Evaluation Criteria

The Portfolio Review Committee is looking for candidates who give evidence of strong promise in the field of the Fine Arts. When evaluating your portfolio and statement, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the documentation of your work communicate its quality?
  • Is your statement clear? Does it touch on all the topics requested above?
  • Does your application communicate skill and commitment?
The Art Department is also concerned about each student's professional expectations as they relate to our program. We want our departmental offerings to coincide with each student's expectations and skills in a productive and meaningful way. As we do not teach animation, design, illustration, ceramics, or crafts, we are disinclined to accept students who are clearly committed to these areas. We believe that such students would best be served by entering another program in another college or university that is geared toward these art forms.

Some Points:
"Many students who are accepted to UCSC will not be selected by the Art Department as art majors."
Ouch. That would be so sad. And regarding the, um, exclusivity (?) of the major... it is just one of those things. In soc we studied funding of public universities, and parts of the science department are funded by research, whereas the art is funded I think by tuition and by the state, and so there is not enough art to go around. Definitely not everyone who selects this major can complete it; it is not very easy. But I find that my friends who are majoring in sciences spend an amazing amount of time studying, studying every night, even the weekends. So maybe Art is a little easier? All the same, I went to the studio at 1:30 tonight and there were 4 other people working! Usually I have the studio to myself that late, and occasionally one other person is using it.
"and they have an expertise in understanding where beginning artworks lead in terms of future developments. "
That is amazing.
"They also want to sense that students can exert judgment about their own work--that they can tell good from bad in their own work"
Oooooh nooo is the work I did today for my final project bad? I think it maybe was. I think possibly it was unbearably bad. Ooooooh noooooo. My professor told me I was on track for a B+ and with a great final piece it could be an A. She did not say what would happen if my final piece was unbearably bad. But if I get a B- I can't count this toward my major. Oooooh noooo I should start over. I have more than a day! I will try harder! She seemed to like it okay when I showed her my two in progress pieces, but I heard her suggestions for the non art majors who are likely going to struggle a bit in producing this extensive piece and she did not hint that she had a concern or a suggestion for a major change. A huge change, I mean. Not a change of major. It might be fine. I do really like my pieces, but they are so safe and so boring. And I am worried that since the subjects are very small compared to the background I have not put enough drawing into them.
" By "skill" the committee means that the student demonstrates a level of technical ability in one or more areas and that the student does not require remedial work that cannot be provided by the department."
That is quite harsh.
"Portfolios Should Not:
  • Show work of low quality along with work of high quality.
  • Include high school work unless it is truly exceptional."
What, then, are you supposed to do if you finish your frosh and soph years while in high school? I think possibly you are still considered to have freshman status as long as you enter UC the fall following your highschool graduation. But that is very secondhand knowledge, as I only went in as a sophomore.
"As we do not teach animation, design, illustration, ceramics, or crafts, we are disinclined to accept students who are clearly committed to these areas. We believe that such students would best be served by entering another program in another college or university that is geared toward these art forms."
That is harsh too. At least it calls them art forms. Also, is "illustration" a subject? Because that is what I want to do, and I had planned to learn it while at UCSC. Also, I am not saying Ceramics is a university course of study, but why don't we have Ceramics? Why did I enroll in a gigantic school with 15 thousand students if there was not going to be one little Ceramics class for me to take? Also, I have seen ceramic works in one of the two campus galleries. WHO MADE THEM? HOW DID THEY GET THERE? WHY DIDN'T I GO TO ART SCHOOL?

However, having completed 100% of my general education requirements, with only art courses and one art history course left on my plate, wishing about transferring seems silly. From here on out, I am effectively in art school.

I had not really thought of it that way. I am going to my little online course planner to see how many of our courses (wait, how am I going to learn to illustrate?) I can fit in in the next 2 years. There are probably 50 courses that I'd really like to take, and 7 that I will die of sadness without taking. I don't think I will be graduating early, not if it means missing out on Introduction to Gallery Management or Writing For Artists.