speaking of balloons

In my last artist post, I mentioned that do balloon work, which tends to be along the lines of silly hatsfunny animals, and weaponry, but I've done some bigger and more elaborate things too.

Inges Idee takes it to another level.  Piecewise construction is common to those that dabble in balloons, but Idee doesn't just use what's given him; he creates balloon-like forms that are kind of alive.

Take this balloonish creature for instance: holding a baby up in the air which elicits much more emotion than a simple twist tie balloon.  The difference is that there is gesture here and not just a figure's form.

I think there may actually be a person inside the balloon, but I can't tell, and I can't read his website well enough to figure it out (not in a language I can read).  Perhaps with further research I could determine it, but I kind of like leaving the mystery as-is.

He also covers other things in latex, like cars, and interior spaces, leading to really cool effects.

Is it okay to be pretty?

Unlike this woman, I like being "pretty."  Not because it's feminine, but because I identify with it--that is, I identify with what is typically considered feminine beauty.  I like skirts and occasionally putting on makeup.  My identify doesn't depend on it--I feel just as good wearing baggy cargo pants and a wifebeater.  But sometimes, I want to be pretty.  (And you know what?  I want a family too.  Men can want families, what's the problem?)

I am NOT submitting by liking or wanting things that other people consider to be feminine.  She says that it's wrong to be pretty.  You know what I think is wrong?  Certainly not wanting to be beautiful within or without gender.  What's wrong is telling people that they shouldn't do what they feel is good, natural, or healthy.  Telling them that doing that screws a whole bunch of people like them.  Putting one's opinions over all and not making room for people to make individual choices.  In some circumstances, sure, society's perception of beauty can be skewed, but let people make their own calls on when that is.  I can see some of where she comes from (and she too has every right to think her thoughts and speak her mind), but I don't agree with the moral extremes she comes to.

I think that anyone of any gender has the right to identify themselves as they please and to pursue that identity in whatever way they feel fit.  Something that is accepted by society at large doesn't mean it's inherently wrong.  Choose your battles.  For me, feminism is about choice and equality, including the choice to be "pretty."


basic building blocks

Having realized I haven't posted on artists in a very long while, I'm going to share some of my recent findings over the next little bit.  First up: Legos.

Nathan Sawaya does what I wish I could do--build amazing things out of Legos.  I mean, my 6" spaceships are cool and all, but they aren't really art.  From renderings of photographs to cutesy sculptures and signs to compelling pieces, this fellow takes a simple child's toy and runs with it.

I think working with Legos would be similar to the balloon work I've done in the past--it's a fairly restricting medium, but you can still do "anything."  The art comes from what you do within those restrictions, incorporating them or using them to explicitly make a point.  The image I've included, for example, would be very different if made of clay, bronze or wood.  It takes a piecewise medium to have the same effect... you could do something similar with woven branches, brick, or balloons.  Legos are especially interesting because they are supposed to fit together and because they are so commonly associated with children.


the results are in

Nathaniel and I are headed to Princeton!  He'll be working under Eric Wood, studying hydroclimatology.


on healthcare reform

I've buried my head in the sand for a while on this one, having wanted to wait until the dust settled a bit.

some positives
Health care reform helps people with pre-existing conditions big-time, as in some people will actually be able to get insurance when they couldn't before.  Under our old system, people with high-risk conditions like depression, cancer, or heart-disease could be denied private coverage and then not be granted state coverage because the waiting list was too long.  Additionally, children will be more protected, not being able to be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, as well as being able to stay on a parent's plan longer.

some negatives
"High-income earners — families making more than $250,000 — will pay several thousand dollars more in Medicare payroll taxes starting in 2013. Their unearned income, now exempt from the payroll tax, would also be subject to a 3.8 percent levy" [3]  Not cool.  And then everyone has to be insured or pay a penalty as of 2014?  Seriously?  Instead, how about if you need state coverage later you pay more if you weren't insured previously?  Gah.  It just feels like the penalty is in the wrong place.

My overall opinion?  It's a toss up.  I like that coverage is going to be more accessible, but don't like the way they're shuffling the money around.  Law is iterative, and I'm okay with this being a step in the process, but I'd like more steps to be taken as well.



strange things

I had a bizarre dream last night: I was a student in an elementary school bungalow.  Into the room (disrupting class, which seemed to be quiet study time) comes a salesman, selling medicine potions a la a mash between Dr. Terminus from Pete's Dragon and Alfredo Aldarisio from Pushing Daisies.  He's friendly in a non-creepy way, but I'm deeply afraid of him.  I am the only one bold enough to call him out as a quack, and I do so repeatedly with the intent to expel him.  I eventually spew language so venomous that he is offended and leaves.  Then, burdened with incredible guilt, I go to the young teacher--who quietly sat down for all of this, ignoring the situation--and apologize, with a mild undertone that I was sorry for interrupting class, not for kicking the salesman out.  She said, "You better be," and rather harshly made me apologize to everyone in the class, but with the emphasis the other way around--that it was wrong to kick out the salesman.  Meanwhile, the salesman lurks sadly off in the distance, outside the classroom.  I sink into my seat, which turns into the front passenger seat of a car.  The salesman returns to the classroom, which becomes the car at the same time, and he sits in the back seat moping.  The teacher gets in the drivers seat, who I think wants me to apologize to the salesman, but then I have a sudden awareness that they are friends, carpool buddies, and possibly romantically involved.  I start to speak and the dream ends.

This was so strange to me because other than watching Pushing Daisies this weekend, I don't think I've had any recent events that correspond to elements of the dream.  I think it's interesting to note that in the dream I'm deeply afraid of even nice non-creepy people who want me to buy stuff from or give money to them, which is fairly true in real life, and even more so when it comes to creepy people.   Frugality gone phobia?


poppy season!

N and I went for a hike last Sunday--the year mark.  We didn't do exactly the same hike, but it was the same park we walked through a year ago.


Shotwell 0.5

It's here: Shotwell 0.5!

Our new features, per the official announcement:
  • Photos can be tagged and organized by tag, creating a new tool for managing your photo collection
  • Printing
  • Photos can be published to Google's Picasa Web Albums service
  • Photos can be set as your desktop background directly from Shotwell
  • Photo import runs in the background, making imports smoother and more fluid
  • Publishing photos to web services is more responsive
  • New or updated language support for French, Italian, German, Simplified Chinese, Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Polish, and Portuguese.
  • Other stability and performance improvements
And I got to update the doc again, and added pictures: Using Shotwell 0.5.

And we also have a new website, thanks to Kaj-Ivar.  (I have a bio now too!)

AND Shotwell 0.4.3 is default on Fedora 13 alpha.  Awesomeness.


into vs. in to

This morning, I overheard two coworkers debating whether to use into or in to in the phrase "You are logged [into/in to] Flickr/Facebook/Picasa as ...".  They ended up liking into in originally partially because it was shorter and they were trying to cut down on characters for that line.

I felt as though that in cases such as these, one choice is usually significantly more correct.  A simple Google search yielded a Grammar Blog with an entry on into vs. in to.  To steal from the blog: into is a preposition used often to indicate movement toward the inside of a place, in to is the adverb in followed by the preposition to.

I decided that in general I prefer in to when paired with the verb log in this context.  So as the discussion continued, my other coworker and I butted in, both of us defending in to.  But after a bit of debate, in end, into was used.  I'm mildly disgruntled, but it's not my feature.

Logged in to means that you are logged in the manner in (as opposed to out) to a website, etc..  Logged into means that you are logged to a point of contact with a website, etc..  Both obviously work.  I like in to because it has the parallel out of, which gives it greater specificity, and parallelism is nice in itself.

Here are some stats on the number of Google hits for various permutations of the phrases, since I thought they were interesting:
"logged into" 23M hits
"logged in to" 535M hits
"are logged into" 2M hits
"are logged in to" 46M hits
"log in to" 769M hits
"log into" 6M hits

Also thrown out there in the debate were login, log-in, and logged-in, just as points of consideration.

I'd be interested if anyone had thoughts on this.