May 28

Interior design from a high school art class perspective

My bedroom at home is painted an awful, grotesque orange color that makes everything in the room look weird.

Okay, that’s not fair. I used to love this color. That’s because this room used to be a side office slash den, and it was a really nice color for a room you want to be awake in. It’s just, like, extremely not a good bedroom color.

But I’ve got to live with it for the rest of the summer, because repainting would be an investment of time, money and emotional energy that is multiple orders of magnitude greater than I have to spare, or than I would lose in emotional energy by having to put up with it for three months.

Instead, I’m going to attempt to mitigate the issue using interior design — because I need new sheets and pillowcases, and it couldn’t hurt to replace the curtains with something more my style (not that I don’t like gray abstract floral swirls, but in incandescent light and reflecting the orange walls it looks gray-brown with pale orange dots.)

So today, I used the app Color Grab to get a bunch of snaps of shades of orange from my walls, and inverted them in photoshop — because I don’t know what good interior design would look like in here, but interior design that mitigates these walls means finding the right shades of blue.

A four-column set of color swatches.

Column 1: walls in various light levels
Column 2: inversion of walls in brightness
Column 3: inversion of walls in brightness and hue
Column 4: inversion of walls in hue

So, in a goth-like rebellion against the status quo, I am establishing control over my personal space via manipulation of color disregarding contemporary design principles.

Other goals include switching to white LED bulbs and maybe flowers or something — having an alive thing would be nice, I think.

May 27

My head hurts

I have one of those kinds of headaches that make it difficult to hold onto a thought for more than a few seconds. It makes blogging really hard.

When I say “One of those kinds” of headaches, I’m guessing, here — I’m not actually sure whether there are any kinds of headaches that don’t do this to me. It might just be a quality headaches have.

Today was a long day, with a few good things and a lot of stressful things, and a handful of illness-like experiences — for example, this headache. I got a lot more done today than I’ve been getting done most days, but I got a lot less done today than I planned to do.

And as usual when I’m in pain, I’m having a great deal of difficulty thinking about anything other than the pain. So I’m blogging about the pain.

May 26

There’s a picture of me on the internet! (But, like, someplace significant.)

Near the end of this semester I, along with the editor-in-chief of the paper, put a story about plane crashes under the header of “Plane Crash Corner,” a reference to the recurring segment on the podcast Hello Internet. Faith then took a photo of us with the paper and emailed it to Brady Haran, who is responsible for Plane Crash Corner on the podcast. This morning, Brady got our permission to post the photo on his website. We’re both very excited.

From the NECC Observer (Northern Essex Community College) out of Haverhill, Massachusetts

May 25

some brief thoughts on homework

The idea of homework (for K-12 students) bothers me on a sort of fundamental level. One of the popular cases made for education is that it prepares people to grow up and join the work force — if that’s the case, homework is the opposite of the way workplaces are supposed to work. You don’t take your work home with you and keep doing it in  your spare time, you leave it at work, or you clock in (plus overtime) for the extra time you spend doing it. Homework seems almost-proactively designed to blur the lines between labor and leisure in favor of capitalists at the expense of the well-being of the laborers.

That’s all — I’m going back to sleep now.

May 22

Student email and other Hampshire stuff

I just sent my first email from my Hampshire student email account. I was messing around with it because I was procrastinating, and I was hoping there would be an easy and obvious way to set up forwarding so I could just keep using my gmail.

I had an unexpected problem in getting my Hampshire student email: they gave me the wrong one.

Hampshire student emails are generated using the initials of your full name and the year you enter the school. So if I were to enter by my name here, my email would be txw15@hampshire.edu. (Don’t email that. It’s not mine, and I don’t know if there is a T.X.W. at Hampshire this year.) But they had the wrong middle initial for me, for some reason. I didn’t care for my own sake, because (obviously) I’m not particularly invested in my federally identified name, but apparently that matters from an administrative perspective.

So now I’ve got the right one, and I was looking for those settings, and I successfully guessed the email address of the other person from NECC who’s also going to Hampshire this semester. (Or, I sent a different incoming student with the same full initials a very confusing email.)

I’m really looking forward to the paperwork opening up for my application, on the first of June. I’m honestly excited about filling it out. Especially my housing preferences.

May 21

Update on the slow, soul-deafening drag of summer

I actually got a couple things done today! I transcribed an interview, went shopping1 for some food that can be kept in my bedroom safely because my anxiety conspires against me when it comes to hunger: the hungrier I am, the worse I feel, and the more overwhelming the idea of interacting with other humans is — until I reach the point where I’m so hungry I can barely compel myself to move, and everyone’s finally gone to bed. Maybe. Some of the time.

I also did a couple of really basic administrative things to do with my transfer. Mostly what I did today was watch episodes of Let’s-Play YouTuber KingDaddyDMAC’s modded Minecraft series, FTB Infinity. I’m on episode 8.

Still pretty damn bored. Open to suggestions.

  1. with help

May 20

99 Percent Invisible on TED: Flag design

Have you seen 99 Percent Invisible host Roman Mars’s TED talk? It’s great. He basically re-performs an episode of his podcast, and he picked a great one to do visually: the episode on city flags.

 

Mars recommends checking out your home city’s flag and seeing if it could use improvement, which sounded like fun. My home town doesn’t have a flag to re-make, but I was in Worcester, Mass. last night when I watched it the second time, and their flag is terrible — so my  friend and I did some brainstorming. Here’s Worcester’s current flag:

800px-flag_of_worcester_massachusetts-svg

And here’s what we came up with:

worcester-city-flag-proposal

 

By the way, since the talk came out Roman Mars has teamed up with Autodesk to run a campaign to replace San Francisco’s awful state flag. It’s at sanfranciscoflag.com.

May 19

Tofu & Whiskey (not necessarily at the same time)

Got a little over two hours you want to kill? I’ve been suggesting these two talks to people over and over for the past couple weeks, so I figured I should probably share them here. They’re Talks@Google, and they’re both about making consumable things.

The first one’s about the history of tofu in the US and the economics of tofu production now — and Minh Tsai, the guy giving the talk, makes tofu in the room while he talks.

From Investment Banker to Tofu Master | Minh Tsai, Founder/CEO of Hodo Soy

The second one is about how whiskey is made, especially scotch. As I write this, I’m drinking Macallan, because I was curious about the difference between scotch aged in sherry barrels versus scotch aged in bourbon barrels.

Anthony Caporale, “The Science of Whiskey” | Talks at Google

May 18

Pitch Perfect 2: response to problematic elements

I really want to gush about Pitch Perfect 2. I loved it. There was so much great stuff going on. It didn’t exceed Pitch Perfect in quality, but it did way, way better than I feared it would.

And I’m going to gush. Probably tomorrow, but maybe not until after I’ve seen it again, which I will definitely do.

Before I do that, though, I want to talk about some of the problematic stuff. Because there was plenty of it. Spoilers probably.

Cynthia Rose, who is the only explicitly lesbian character, continued to sexually harass Stacie. This running joke, which perpetuates the narrative of the predatory lesbian, had no lampshades or narrative disapproval. Stacie was obviously uncomfortable, but her discomfort was not at any point confirmed as valid, nor did Cynthia Rose face any consequences for her predatory behavior.

Previously queerbaity Chloe was confirmed bisexual — or at least interested in sexually experimenting with Beca — but no ships thereof sailed. To me, this felt like a token effort to address the previous queerbaiting without really dealing with it.

John, the acapella podcast host, continued to make routine openly misogynistic jokes, countered by his cohost Gail with routine disapproval and embarrassment. This routine felt kind of icky to me, though to be honest I laughed at all the jokes. It’s not hard to interpret it in a way that’s not at all problematic: it represents the perpetuation of, and the lack of serious consequences for, misogyny in formal institutions; but it’s also easy to not interpret it that way, and just read it as “Misogyny’s fine, just as long as it comes with a wink and a nudge.” And while I think an audience member is justified in choosing to interpret the bit charitably, I also think the movie is accountable for reasonable uncharitable interpretations.

I can’t remember any lines Flo had that weren’t a joke about global poverty. Unlike the previous example, I can’t think of any charitable interpretations. I can think of several uncharitable ones, but not with enough clarity to effectively explicate at the moment. I’m sure other people have written, or will write, about it, and I’ll link them when I see them. (I’ve been avoiding commentary on the movie because I didn’t want to see spoilers but I’ll be seeking it out now.)

That’s all I’ve got right now, which is what’s still clear enough in my head to feel comfortable writing about after about 24 hours after leaving the movie.

And, again: I loved this movie. I really enjoyed it, I want to see it again, and there’s a ton of stuff in it I want to gush about, in narrative, music, cinematography, and in ethics and social justice. This movie got a lot right. But it did also get a non-trivial amount of stuff wrong; to a degree where I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say they could have done better. (Especially with Cynthia Rose. I really would have loved to see some acknowledgement that, somewhere in the three years between this and the last film, somebody told her “You need to stop sexually harassing other group members, it’s not okay.”)

I feel the same way about the first Pitch Perfect, which I’ve seen at least a dozen times. If, for some reason, they make a third one, I’ll definitely go see it, even if I’ve heard from every corner of the earth that it’s terrible, because that’s the amount of goodwill these films have earned in my mind.

And I intend to write positive things about this one. I just knew I was sitting down right now to write either that post, or this one, and I felt more comfortable starting with this one.

May 15

Cool video about counting

VSauce’s new video, “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,…1 is really cool — it’s about the intuitive ways that humans naturally count — which is to say, apparently, we’re automatically good at multiplication, but not so much at addition. Check it out:

  1. The full title is “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35…”

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