Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Synchronicity and the Hummingbird Moth

So, I went to the Kauffman Gardens and wrote a guest post for Kris on The Yellow Brick Road Trip all about it - including this crazy ass insect we saw:

It looked even weirder in real life than it did in the photos later, but we were glad that we at least got proof of this totally alien-looking shrimp-dragonfly-hummingbird-thing and have enjoyed shocking people with its oddity.

Flashforward couple weeks later and I'm passing the time in Borders after being witness to a bondage/flogging/humiliation scene, waiting for the Dom and sub to finish the screwing bit of the evening and I run across a rack of $1 books. I stop to look, pick up Gardens of the Imagination: A Literary Anthology and start paging through it. The selections are either interesting or culturally significant and the accompanying illustrations by Peter Malone are beautiful and extremely evokative so I'm all excited by my find and I get it.

After I got home that evening, I was flipping through parts of the book I'd missed before and all of a sudden I was shocked and amazed to stumble across an illustration of the exact same crazy ass insect, which, according to the accompanying text, is called a hummingbird moth, which makes a lot of sense because it moved exactly like a hummingbird, which is one of the reasons it looked so freaking WEIRD.

So totally random I couldn't not share. Thankyouverymuch.

Related posts:
Bugs Are Beautiful

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Original Drawing Auction: Trickster

Edit 10/1: I have shut down the auction early.

Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen to my very first blog auction! I'm trying to fund raise for my June wedding, so please help a sister out!

The beautiful drawing up for grabs this week is the lovely Trickster seen below:

The colors on this aren't true to life.
The colors are more vivid and not so yellow throughout.
I just can't seem to find a good place to take photos in my apartment! ARGH.

Detail - This one is the closest to the true colors.


Based on traditional Japanese stories about foxes who turn into women and seduce men into acting foolishly, this image shows a fox in a state of transformation between woman and animal. The image is 12 x 18 inches, framed without a mat in a frame of the same size.

How to Bid
  1. Bid by leaving comments on this blog through noon (Central time) on Friday, October 2. The highest bid at that time will win.
  2. The starting bid is $20 (so I can at least get the cost of the frame covered!) and will increase by increments of 5$. So if the standing bid is $30, the next smallest bid would be $35.
  3. IMPORTANT! If I cannot locate contact information for you from your comment (i.e. you don't like to a web page with contact info or whatever) please leave your email so I can contact you if and when you win.
If You Win
Local winners will not only win this framed drawing, but they will also get to come and see my studio (aka my apartment), meet me and get a tour, blah blah blah. Winners who are not local will have their mailing cost covered as long as it is under $10. If it is over $10, I will ask for additional funds.

And since I don't trust PayPal not to rip me off (srsly, look into it!) and Google Checkouts charges more than I'd like for processing payments, I'm going to accept payments of cash or money orders only. Sorry for any inconvenience.

So, you're all set. Now................. GO!

Oh, and if you want to help in other ways, PLEASE help me spread the word! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Related posts:
Only YOU Can Help Me Get Married!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

I've talked about de-toxing before because I think it's so important to care for our bodies. Recently, I read Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry which goes into detail about the incredible body burden we are all under. Women of child-bearing age are the most likely to have the most chemicals that can screw with a person in their bodies, which is seriously damaging the children they're having. It's messed up and it's totally legal for our cosmetic companies to sell us products full of lead and carcinogens.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is working to help make people aware of this problem and to hold companies responsible for operating ethically, in ways that won't make us sick:

To find out more, I highly recommend Not Just a Pretty Face. You can also get involved in changing the way this problem isn't addressed by our regulatory bodies on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website. For tips on detoxing, see the related posts below.

Related posts:
Detox Your Life (How To)
Simple Daily Detox Tips
Test Your Home's Toxicity
Detox Your Petcare (How To)

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Sexism and the Outspoken Actress [Guest Post]

Today's guest post comes from my friend Joe, a writer living in Los Angeles. He has worked as post coordinator for a variety of shows on MTV, VH1 and TruTV and is currently working as a post prod assistant on two new Adult Swim shows from the makers of Robot Chicken. He blogs about entertainment on his blog Your Daily Joe, and tweets with the same name.

In his review of The Ugly Truth, Roger Ebert -- the best film critic working today -- said, "Amazing that this raunchy screenplay was written by three women." Later, a reader wrote in to ask him, "So what? Women are not allowed to write raunchy screenplays, when they are the gold standard for successful men's comedies these days?" To which Ebert responded:

Women screenwriters should certainly have all the latitude of men. It's just that The Ugly Truth is so outspokenly vulgar it surprised me, and I don't usually associate that sort of screenplay with women.
This gave me pause. Mild though it may be, this is clearly a sexist notion on par with, "I don't usually associate funny standup comedy with women," or "I don't usually associate good driving abilities with women." Things that, outside of a humorous context, I wouldn't want to go on the record as having said.

What's particularly galling to me about Ebert bringing sexism into the discussion of The Ugly Truth is this: I don't like Katherine Heigl, the star of that movie. Granted, I've never met Katherine Heigl; maybe she's a super lady. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say: I don't like most of the things I've heard or seen about Katherine Heigl over the last few years. Heigl has managed to position herself as a mouthpiece for various issues, one of which is sexism in popular culture. So, in disliking Katherine Heigl's public persona, I've had to confront possible sexism in myself -- in my reactions to her, and in my perception of women in general. Is my inclination toward disliking her the very example of the sexism she speaks out against? Do her actions make me uncomfortable because she's not behaving the way I expect, the way a good little starlet is supposed to?

Before October of 2006, I'd never really been aware of Katherine Heigl. Despite a longtime affinity for stories about aliens and conspiracy theories, I'd never watched "Roswell." And I never had any interest in the whole "Grey's Anatomy" phenomenon. But it was that autumn when the Isaiah Washington controversy erupted. For those of you who may not know, Washington, one of the stars of "Grey's Anatomy," was accused of calling co-star T.R. Knight a "faggot" on the set (an accusation Washington denied). Knight was forced to publicly come out, and Washington was eventually fired when it became clear that the viewers demanded it.

During that incident, Heigl passionately defended Knight in the press. "T.R. is my best friend," she said. "I will throw down for that kid." She added, rightly so, that Washington's use of a homophobic slur was "not okay."

The public stand she took on the Isaiah Washington controversy was the beginning of the reputation she would soon have about her. For now, most people agreed that her outspokenness was appropriate. She stuck up for a friend, and took a stand against homophobia. This was all very admirable.

Just as that whole controversy was beginning to subside, the press blitz began for Knocked Up, Heigl's biggest feature film appearance since her breakout status on "Grey's." I'd been a huge fan of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and was looking forward to this Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen follow-up. The movie was enjoyable enough (not as good as Virgin, in my opinion), and Heigl did a perfectly fine job. Then she gave an interview to Vanity Fair where she said:
[Knocked Up is] a little sexist. It paints women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it on some days. I'm playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you're portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time, it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie.
After her defense of T.R. Knight and then this, the cultural conversation about Heigl was underway. Was she right that Knocked Up was sexist? If so, why did she agree to be in the movie? She had to know, going in, how the female characters were going to come off. If that wasn't cool with her, then she shouldn't have done it; after all, she was already on a hit TV show. Seems like a cynical move -- be in a movie that's going to raise your profile (and, not coincidentally, your paycheck) even though you have ethical objections to ideas the movie is propagating.

The other side of the argument is that she may have been locked into a situation that wasn't worth trying to get out of. Maybe she didn't see eye-to-eye creatively with the filmmakers, and her role developed into something that was different than what she thought it was going to be. A common occurrence. So when the interviewer later asked how she felt about the movie, she did nothing more than to give her honest answer. She spoke her mind, and more power to her! She's real; not another one of these Hollywood puppets reciting the publicist's line.

Her anti-Knocked Up interview wasn't enough to make me dislike her, but it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. It's a clear-cut case of biting the hand that feeds. Knocked Up was a movie that was predestined to be a hit. The Judd Apatow juggernaut was running at full steam. Anybody involved in that movie was going to reap huge benefits. And she did. So perhaps it would have been the more politically wise move -- or at least the more polite move -- to keep such opinions between herself and close, trusted confidantes.

Then came the 2008 Emmy controversy. Heigl made a rather loud public moment out of her decision to withdraw from the competition. She would refuse a nomination because, she said, "I did not feel I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I decided against competing. ... I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such material."

Translation: The writers of my show aren't catering to me and making me look as awesome as I should look.

This is where she lost me. What a completely unacceptable thing to do! I mean, seriously, how dare she! Everything she has in her career she owes to the writers of all the various projects she's acted in over the years. The Emmy she'd already won the previous year, the money, the fame, the (I'm presuming) creative fulfillment of making a living through the self-expression of acting! That's all thanks to the writers. Yes, yes, the writers need good actors to perform their material, just as well as actors need good writers to give them decent material. But that's the point! It's a team effort. That very same writers had guided her to an Emmy win the previous year, and here she was throwing it back in their faces.

Interesting that she went so public with her grievances about her lack of good material, considering her previous comment that the Isaiah Washington controversy should be kept "very much in house." If she was unhappy with the material she was being given or the direction her character was taking, the appropriate people to discuss this with are right there in the production office and on the set.

Heigl was obviously making a power play. She had flexed her feature film might in Knocked Up, so now she was stoking the flames at "Grey's Anatomy" in order to either get more money and accommodations out of that production, or else get let out of her TV contract early so that she could make more money doing features. That led to a storyline in the following season of "Grey's Anatomy" where her character had a death scare. (And no, I wasn't actually watching the show; I was just aware of the storyline.) Ultimately, Heigl and the producers were able to reach some (undisclosed) terms, so her character survived and remains on the show.

Which leads to the latest Heigl incident - her 7/20/09 interview on David Letterman. Guns blazing, Heigl is no more than a minute into the interview when she takes the opportunity to "embarrass" (her word) the producers by telling the Letterman audience about a 17-hour workday she'd just suffered through, which she said she thinks "is cruel and mean."

Well, folks, not only is a 17-hour workday routine for below-the-line crew members... not only are 17-hour days a frequent occurrence for TV writers pounding out those last-minute script revisions that Heigl finds so unworthy... not only do actors spend the vast majority of any shooting day in downtime while other people do the heavy lifting... but, as veteran TV writer/producer Ken Levine puts it:
What [Heigl] neglected to add was ... this "cruel" shooting schedule was only to accommodate HER and her needs. The producers graciously shuffled things around so she could go off and do promotion for her new film. Also, with union rules, the producers had to pay a ton of overtime and penalties to make this happen. The thanks they get is Katherine Heigl going on national television hoping to embarrass them.
So budgets were exceeded and all cast and crew members were subjected to an unnecessarily long shooting schedule so that Heigl could go on Letterman and promote her shitty movie The Ugly Truth. What. A. BITCH!

Ah, but there it is. THAT word. Symptom one of the misogynist. "Bitch." What is it that compels me to use that word here?

I recently read this blog post, which outlined various "unacceptable" female behavior, and labeled such behavior with the form of "bitch" with which it's frequently associated. A woman who steps outside of the socially accepted ideal of female behavior may be called, "mean bitch, crazy bitch, stuck-up bitch, angry bitch, bitch with daddy issues, dyke bitch, shrill bitch, frigid bitch," etc. In my weaker moments, I might be tempted to call Katherine Heigl a stuck-up bitch, and a shrill bitch, and I'd probably throw in an inconsiderate bitch and a selfish bitch for good measure. But what am I really trying to say here? She's brash, discourteous, and a loudmouth. These are characteristics we find in men every bit as frequently as we do in women. What does it add to the discussion to top off the description with "bitch"?

"Bitch" is a gendered word. As any second grader will giddily inform you, it's actually in the dictionary! A female canine. (Marge Simpson: "Well I'm going to write the dictionary people and have that checked. Feels like a mistake to me.") To use the word derogatorily suggests that there's something inherently wrong with the female gender. The very act of applying that word does, indeed, paint me as a sexist, and weakens my argument.

I don't believe my opinions of Katherine Heigl have anything to do with her being a woman, or anything to do with me being sexist - which I do not believe myself to be. If a man were behaving the same way Katherine Heigl does, I'd have just as much of a problem with him. And I probably wouldn't think to call him a "bitch." I'd call him a reckless idiot, an ingrate, an asshole... characteristics men and women can share in equally.

I don't hate Katherine Heigl as a woman, I hate her as a person. I'm a dick that way.

Additional Reading:
T.R. Knight Leaves Grey's Anatomy
Katherine Heigl takes leave of absence

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Futurama Shows Polyamory Is Heaven

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Conservation Project: Update 1

If you'll remember, I was recently given some family heirlooms in the shape of a trunk and many spoons. I started working on the trunk first, since I figured it will be less work overall than all those spoons.
In my museum classes, we learned that to clean an old object, you should use the mildest methods you can. Water is best, water with mild cleansers are the next best, and after that you'll probably get into some conservation ethics that I'll briefly touch on later. So I started out my cleaning process with some mild eco-friendly dishwashing detergent and a sponge.

The trunk was so grimy, the effects were immediate and dramatic!

After a few minutes of gentle scrubbing, all I'd cleaned was this small area. I decided it was time to move on to something with more grime-removing power.

This is the eco-friendly cleanser I use for everyday cleaning. I pulled out some rags, because I was tired of only being able to scrub such a small surface area at a time. Here's what one of the rags ended up looking like after just minutes of use:

Ew! I cleaned it off once, twice, three times, trying to make it look better than it had origionally. But it turns out that all cleaning off the grime did was make it so that instead of looking grimey because it was grimey:

Now it just looks grimey because you can see the wood of the trunk through the very thin layer of peeling paint:
So at this point I was faced with a dilemma we discussed over and over again in my conservation classes: should taking care of the object mean keeping it in the best condition based on how it was given... or does taking care of it mean I should restore it to its former glory with a paint job?

I really only debated it for a few minutes, because I remember when the trunk looked glorious and I kind of hate how it looks now. So I told my boy (who works at Sherwin Williams) to pick me up some paint.

Stay tuned for my amazing adventures in sanding and painting!

Related posts:
My New Conservation Project
Adventures in Collections Management
Life on the Road as a Traveling Exhibits Registrar [Guest Post]

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Woo! I'm 28! The age I decided when I was 10 was the perfect age for child-bearing. But I won't be doing any child-bearing for another couple years, now that I've definitely decided on doing so (having the perfect mate really helps). Gotta get rid of some of that student loan debt before I'm financially viable for a child. It's too bad too, because my ovaries are just aching to crank out a genius little lesbian girl. Yes, I've decided she will be a lesbian. Lol.

Anyway, birthdays of course, make me thing of birth and it used to be a downer because I'd just think about how my mom told me she didn't want me when she was preggers with me because the doctor said I was a boy (he was only half wrong). And then whatever loathing or depression she associated with me just kinda stayed attached to me even though I turned out to have a sexual innie not an outie.

And, of course, after I had my first miscarriage when I was 23, which was the single most physically and psychologically painful experience in my life, I'd think about that on all my birthdays, which, of course, wasn't happy either.

Now I just think about the future and how happily I feel loved in the present and I forgive my mom for the way she felt about me, because having experienced how much hatred and anger I could feel against a poor innocent fetus in my body, there's no way I can be mad at her anymore. And having made peace with the 3 kids I've miscarried (first time I miscarried twins, second time happened about 2 years ago now*), I can look forward to a time when I will welcome a little baby into my belly and allow her to transform my entire world into something I could never predict or anticipate.

That's the kind of thing that's swirling in Ms. May's brain on her birthday.

Yay Birth! It keeps life going!

*I have A- blood and that is probably what caused it both times since I'm supposed to have special shots while I'm preggers so my blood doesn't react to the baby's and vice versa and didn't know until the second time.

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For Once, Happy Birthday
Depression in Children
You Want Me to Put That WHERE?!?

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Swine Flu Lobbyists Apparently Won

I wrote a guest post for my friend Kris' blog The Yellow Brick Road Trip. Please take a moment to check it out.

Has anyone else noticed that suddenly no on in the media is leading off "swine flu" stories by saying "swine flu"? Sure, they'll mention the phrase somewhere in the article as if by way of defining what this H1N1 is, but now it's all "H1N1 this" and "H1N1 that" so I'm guessing the pork lobbyists successfully won even tho no one has said a word about it ever since they dropped the more swiney language.

Of course, I'm not worried about swine flu OR H1N1 since the Gardasil vaccine so heavily marketed to young girls is more potentially life-threatening to more people. Not that you'll ever hear anything about THAT on the news.

Stupid media.

*kicks them*

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Direct versus Word-of-Mouth Marketing: An Example from my Daily Commute
Just Pull Out
Thoughts On the Fourth of July

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Daughters of India: Fazal Sheikh Photography

I recently went to check out the temporary exhibits at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art the other day and was absolutely stunned by the amazing photography exhibit I saw there. Showcasing the work of Fazal Sheikh, an artist-activist who uses photography to create portraits of communities around the world, was a two-part exhibit.

The first showed the abandoned widows of India who have been driven to the safety of ashrams in a holy city where they exchanged prayers for food. In India, widows are no longer cared for by their husbands' families, unless they're very lucky. And since women are seen as a burden on society, they are not accepted back into their parents' homes. They are forced to make a life for themselves, which leads many of them to a place where they can be with others like them and try to scrape out a living by chanting for worshippers.

The photography is absolutely stellar. What Sheikh chose to capture when he wasn't focusing on the women's heavily-lined faces (or the backs of their heads for those I assume didn't want their face photographed), he chose the most heart-breaking details of these widows lives to show. Things like the pet rats who offer some of the women the only comfort they find in life other than their devotion to Krishna, or simply their hands folded as if in resignation at the life they've been forced to accept.

The second part of the exhibit also focused on the unwanted girls and women in Indian culture, this time showing the faces and bits of the lives of girls at a shelter.

Some were sent to the city as young as 3-4 years of age to make a living "however they can" and send it back to their families, and others are women who have run away from their husbands because of physical abuse.

The stories of all of these women are absolutely heartbreaking, and are the perfect match for the beautifully-shot images. They are the most evokative collection of photography I think I've ever seen in my entire life.

I highly suggest you take the time to visit before the exhibit ends September 13th.

You can also find his photography books of these series available on his website. This link will lead you to the widows and this one leads you to the girls at the shelter.

Related posts:
LOVE ME Photo Essay Shows Pain of Poverty, Abuse
Sociological Images Deconstructs Our Culture
Photography Philanthropy: Blue Earth Alliance

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Monday, September 7, 2009

International Literacy Day

Buried in a book in Seattle

Tomorrow is International Literacy Day. According to UNESCO, "Some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 72.1 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out."

I don't know about you, but I can't imagine living without reading. Reading has changed my life constantly. From providing me with viewpoints about the world I'd never be exposed to in my very strict household growing up, to teaching me how to deal with the world, make money and be myself - books have done a hell of a lot in helping me through life.

It saddens and frustrates me that something I consider to be a natural state of life is completely unavailable to some people. Considering how that would limit my options in life and make so many interactions absolutely impossible just boggles my mind.

When people can read, they can educate themselves. And when people can educate themselves, odds are they'll be more happy, healthy and successful. If you'd like to be part of the fight against illiteracy locally, donate to or volunteer with Literacy Kansas City and help change someones life forever.

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Spay, Neuter and GIVE Kansas City
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Poverty and Hunger (Blog Action Day)

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Friday, September 4, 2009

My New Conservation Project

My Grandma Peggy's trunk

My recently deceased uncle was the keeper of my grandma's trunk and spoon collection, which my aunt decided to give to me. It was neat since my sisters are the ones my parents always give heirloom-y stuff to, and this is the first piece of family history that's belonged to me. Plus, it needs massive conditioning, what could make a little ex-museum studies major happier?

I'm a huge fan of trunks. I already have one (below) where I keep my scrapbooks, drawings and whatnot, but this one is so much cooler!

The trunk I already had, which was also a gift.
You can't tell from the pics, but this one is significantly smaller.

And it has a tray for two layers of storage space instead of one:

The trunk is gorgeous but after living in the houses of smokers for centuries (and a construction worker's for several years), it is quite dirty and yellow and reeks of cigarettes and wet dog (my grandma owned loads of dogs). I will be trying to make it creamy again and will hopefully suffuse the thing with the sweet smell of cedar.

Matt, @jacaphene and friend help me sort through the spoons

The spoons are all extremely dirty and many are somewhat corroded. They need to be cleaned up and displayed instead of moldering in a piece of Tupperware like they have been for who knows how long.
I'm going to enjoy taking out my frustrations on these guys as much as I'm going to enjoy discovering all the awesomeness that currently lies behind the grime.

Sooo many spoons I don't know what to do!

This one's got the Buddha on it!

When these spoons are cleaned, they are going to be quite an impressive collection! There are spoons commemorating the moon landing, Apollo 13, US centennials, me and my siblings births and so much more! It's really exciting for me, because I grew up with pack rats so I developed anti-pack rat habits (there simply wasn't room for any more stuff in the house!) and the odds of my getting a sweet-ass historical, crazy and random collection such as this were so not in my favor. I'm totally overjoyed one fell into my lap!

I'll keep you up to date as I return these treasures into the lovely objects they deserve to be.

Related posts:
Life on the Road as a Traveling Exhibits Registrar [Guest Post]
Adventures in Collections Management
UX: Cultural Guerrillas in Paris

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Seen Around Midtown: Named Apartments

There's something about naming a place that makes it just that much more endearing (blame the influence of Gone with the Wind). There are many apartments around midtown that all seem to have been build around the same time (some are even fairly identical) that the builders gave names to. Just makes me wanna pinch these buildings in the cheek and coo over them like a baby! But I'm a dork like that.

That sign says "Elbertha"

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Seen Around Midtown: Roanoke Neighborhood
Seen Around Midtown: Whimsical Neighborhood
Seen Around Midtown: Painted PBR Ads

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