Thursday, January 31, 2008

107. Yesterday Was a Four-Year Reunion Between Dr. Armand Kuris and Vic, Song Called "Tails to Heads"

I suppose it was an Oprah-Winfrey moment. Why does television have to cliche-ify every single unique, meaningful human experience? Set the emotions aside, move on, do something about it... dumb, dumb emotions not good for science but needed because dxmmit I'm a human being (female, to make it worse), but overall I'm just glad I am still alive to come to the point to finally give Armand the 3 units I owed him. Or maybe it was 6. It was the evening of January 30, 2008, in between 5:30-6pm. Marine Science Institute, Armand's new office, formerly Kevin Lafferty's. It touched me so much to see my collage of invertebrates and parasites still up on the door. Goodness man, I thought some students were going to over-ride that work with something even more impressive. I looked at it, amazed it was still there, but then stepped back in disgust, realizing that I now have a Nikon D80 (over an archaic Olympus Camedia) and lots of photographic experience (awards, publication, and paid jobs), and well... the collage needs some major revamping. Tsk, tsk, tsk... I am in continual self-disgust of my own art. I suppose that means I'm evolving. Good sign....

I thought I was going to be graduated from CCS at that point, but I still don't feel graduated. I think I'll be stuck in CCS for the rest of my life. But I don't mind, because it's not a bad deal to be stuck in a world of people who allow infinite creative and intellectual freedom. I'm just wondering whether there are other CCS's in the world. I wish the whole world were one giant CCS. *Sigh.*

I wanted to show Armand and all those people from CCS and my UCSB undergraduate experience all the amazing things they have done for me, who've marked my mind (permanently) and shaped me up to who I am today... not that it's an impressive sight. But hey, I'm still alive, eh? I made nearly all my necessary mistakes out in the world the past four years (healthy intellectual outcrossing), and now I'm ready to focus and plug on through. I'm ready to be a specialized generalist at UCSB. I'm ready to work with all the people who rescued me in the first place. People who gave me a reason to believe in Authority--not "believe." Wait, this ain't religion here.... I don't go to UCSB to Question Authority, which I was forced to do at UCLA and UCR. I go to UCSB because it's the only place where I can Trust Authority and Question Reality. That would be a very nice bumper sticker for CCS UCSB: Trust Authority. Where can you do that nowadays, except here? And my dad. I trust him too.

Tails to Heads

There was a wound in my mind's heart
so deep
so sooo deep

There was a gloom I held so long
I could no longer keep
no longer keep

And all the Wiseones I thought I was shunned
I flipped the coin for them to become
what I build upon
I build upon
I build upon
I build upon

I flipped the coin from Tails to Heads
and I can now stand on their shoulders instead
of being in light of their darkness
time healed my mistakes, and so I confessed

Bandaids of distance no longer cured
and so I faced up to my pains of the past
and placed a sealed patch to rooted core
'til spacetime's logic no longer had gaps

and solution
was resumption
to interact
to resume
to interact
to interact
bridgin' the gap....

And so my gaped fabric
now all stiched
and so my grungy
coined patch polished
To shine at last
durable from core
once darkness
to its tips

from tails to heads
tails to heads
tails to heads
from tails to heads

I reversed what they may have thought of me
and showed them who I am, can truly be
just another piece of your puzzle
the one you rescued... long, long ago...

From the current of self-destruction
stretching out your hand,
and you saw in me... some hope...
Some hope... tails to heads
tails to heads
tails to heads
hope never left
from tails to heads
hope never left
from tails to heads....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

106. UCSB Blue Horizons Behind the Scenes: Students at Work (Former "Art" as "Evidence")

Helen is missing too!

UCSB Blue Horizons Collage, Behind the Scenes, Students at Work.
What was formerly a volunteer art project that I was planning on doing out of my own good will ends up being used as "show me the data" evidence for contesting a final grade in concern of contribution to the class--participation and collaboration.

[March 5 2008 Vic Retroactively Cuts out an Image and a Paragraph Due to Previous Misunderstandings]

Despite her absence during the last week, the following photocollages are solid evidence demonstrating Victoria Minnich's extensive volunteer PAing for three different final projects for Blue Horizons during the weeks previous to the final week (summer of 2007):
Blue Horizons Behind the Scenes: Maria de Oca filming Dr. Kim Selkoe and the head chef of Elements Restaurant, Downtown Santa Barbara, California, August 9, 2007 "Santa Barbara Sustainable Seafood" Blue Horizons Behind the Scenes: film shoot with Tam Hunt, JD, Community Environmental Council, Dulce Osuna, Hannah Eckberg, Downtown Santa Barbara, California, July 25, 2007 "A New Wave of Energy" (Ocean Energy as Alternative Energy)
Blue Horizons Behind the Scenes: film shoot with Dr. Milton Love, Dave, Ben, Logan, Dr. Love's office, UC Santa Barbara, California, August 3, 2007 "Rigs-to-Reefs Issue"

The group photo was taken with "self-timer" on my Nikon D80 at Coal Oil Point Reserve around July 6, 2007. Students took a walk during our first social gathering at Dr. Constance Penley's house. Also missing from the image is Helen (besides Logan)!

My brain hurts thinking about this.... I am at a Starbucks in Camarillo and I'm trying very hard to hold back from crying....

105. Biologically Incorrect. Distant Manager Syndrome. Telephone Game of the Bureaucracy of Science. "This is How Shxt Happens"

Dr. Suarez, a scaling-law physiologist at UCSB, graciously allowed me to borrow his wonderful poem that was posted on his wall. Apparently, he retrieved a copy of this poem from a professor down the hallway of the building, but unfortunately he is now retired. *Sigh.* Dr. Suarez is a very pleasant, amusing character! I am glad to have finally met him!

Monday, January 21, 2008

104. A New Song Called Good Trouble, Inspired from a Vivid Conversation with Dr. Oran Young, Bren, UC Santa Barbara

Good Trouble
ah-goooood trouble
ah-goooood trouble
everything i thought
was a failure
the professor saw
ah-goooood trouble
everything i thought
was a disaster
the professor saw
goooood trouble
we need to experiment
we need some change
it may not work
but yet we tried
it's better than
staying the same
it's not by the books
but yet we tried
and shook all the static pain
i have some
that may seem
quite quirky
in one place
that's negative energy
in another
it's thriving novelty
in one place
it's self-destroying
in another
it's breaking all boundaries
is there
a place for me
where i survive
spare my sanity
in the world's prison
to box your being
the freedom lurks
in the nooks and crannies
in the world's habits
down spiraling
the freedom reigns
in microcosmal humanity
It's amazing to think that two people can have two entirely different viewpoints of the same experiences! One professors views my years outside UCSB as a "failure" and an "inability to finishe" and another professor views my trials as experiences to learn and become more well-rounded! In the end, it's all relative. It's all a matter of perception.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

103. Greenscreen: A Day of Filming at Goleta Beach, California

Check out all the images in the link above (photobucket)!

I have been participating in Greenscreen for so long at UCSB, I feel ashamed that I have no tangible product for the experiences I have gone through thus far. Therefore, I decided to write a first blog. For all of those who do not know what Greenscreen is... it's not just a "green screen," or your neon Christmas wrapping paper slapped against a wall to make some whacko student film. Greenscreen is actually a new program at UCSB funded by the Coastal Fund (and perhaps a few other agencies) to produce student films in concern of regional environmental issues. There are three films going on: a mocumentary on development in the Gaviota coast, a "feature film short" about a student who goes psychotic after being brainwashed with global warming media, so psychotic that he starts to interact with talking fish (that, I think is a good plot to work with on such a film), and me? I am a part of the Goleta Beach project, which in part, when thinking about it, you can go a bit psychotic. Why? The situation is that Goleta Beach is a heavily recreated Santa Barbara County beach, but there are huge problems on how to manage it since the beach is chronically retreating. There are some folks who want to see "managed retreat" and other folks who are into more human-imposed visions of a landscape: dredge sand and create structures to keep the beach in place. It's kind of liking maintaining one giant backyard. One way or another, as Cheryl Chen (on the board of Coastal Fund) states, "it's a lose-lose situation." All possible outcomes will be costly and someone will get hurt. It's just a matter of who. So, it sucks. And those who want to do "managed retreat"--a more "natural" coastal geomorphological process--also give me a head ache, because the beach was in part MANMADE in the first place (after World War II, I believe). So, as I had to explain to the manager of the Java Jones coffeeshop this morning, I have to maintain a "healthy" interaction with the project, and not get too involved, otherwise I will go nuts and start seeing talking fish. Maybe in this case, the retreating sand will take me on a "magic carpet ride." I'm just going to enjoy the "circus" of perspectives, so to speak. What I am interested in all of this is the underlying logic structures and "cognitive mapping" systems of people involved in Goleta Beach. In addition, I need a social pill, and I need to maintain my camera skills... AND I need to take breaks from being in a room all day... so this is a superb outlet for me. In addition to that, it's also a huge learning curve for me in terms of the process on how to collaborate with a larger group of people. Production groups are like microcosmal government systems, and it's very interesting how the dynamics of individuals play out. As of now, I'm a field videographer... and quasi-responsible for sound. I'm slowly participating a bit more than I have before. My role is malleable and I can be happy placed anywhere, just as long as I am outdoors. But it came to a point today where I thought, geez... I've been following this for a whole quarter. You would think I'd have some "tangible product" to reflect upon my experiences thus far? Nothing really. So, today, since I had to leave around noon and would have been of no use for an interview that would have extended beyond noon... I decided to whip out my Nikon D80 and take pictures. I felt like, though I was part of a group, I had a sense of individualism and control, that I was observing and manipulating rather than being under the gun, all through occupying a cinematic niche space no one else was assuming responsibility for: photography. There I went, a fleeting happiness and spontaneity to document in still shots things you couldn't necessarily see or notice when making a film. Earlier there were some dolphins coming out close to shore, and Matt--a new, enthusiastic member of the team--came out with me to frantically prep my camera and take some shots. Though I had a quasi-telephoto lens, it was as close as I could get. That was a ticklish experience. In the images above, I took pictures of the crew at work, Ace and Matt working on setting up the steady cam, Alexios and Aaron filming, and typical beach sites: tractors by the pier, a more generic collage, and the grand finale collage: "Collision and Coexistence: the Boy, the Tractor, the Restaurant, and the Beach." Sounds like a title for an environmental soap opera, eh? I just made it up on the fly. After creating this collage and collection of photographs, I feel a little better about myself... that I have dumped some ideas from my brain, though it's loaded with so many more. It's a heavy weight for sure.

I wanted to say sorry to the crew if I was a stiff butthead this morning. Though I may be a scientist, I am a human, and I am entitled to emotions, and though school and personal life should be divorced, ultimately they interfere. I'll briefly go through a list of mental and physiological disclaimers right now: (1) I lost 1450 to internet fraud, but there is a good chance I will get the money back, (2) I'm going through crisis trying to apply to graduate school, and (3) I found two "C"s on my report card that need explaining--both parties will write a letter describing that the C reflects some other criteria and does not reflect the product of the work turned in, intellectual and creative capabilities, nor drive or motivation. I am flipping out because of this, and I need to talk to a few profs next week. So, since my life is pretty drab right now, I'm partly in panic mode, and I am sure it reflected on the beach.

Ace brought the materials from Keith, but unfortunately we were missing one piece: the adapter that connects the microphone plug of the camera to the XLR cable of the boom mic. Since I am a field scientist, I am entitled to exclaim, "Shxt!!!" I said to Lauren and Alexios, "If we don't have good audio, we have nothing." So I flipped out under the regime of my own words, and instantly decided not to shoot. Instead, I went foraging for the missing part. I ended up going in circles for a while, finally encountered a Circuit City, had to wait ten minutes for the store to open (at 10am), ended up talking to a cool landscaper guy named Kerry, and we breezed about technology and the downhill of society (which passed the time quickly), got pissed because Circuit City didn't carry the part I needed, zipped back to RadioShack off Fairview (they also opened at 10am), found the part (which was in awkward form, no need to explain...) and zipped back to the beach. By then I probably wasted 10 bucks of gas and the interview in the Beachhouse Cafe was about over. I felt detached and useless by that point, but Matt came along, and we started assembling equipment again. Lauren came back with more equipment (it turned out that she went foraging for sound equipment as well), and we further assembled a fully functional audio-video unit. By then, I felt like I was getting somewhere in life, but we had to wait for a while for Ace to assemble steadycam, which I do not know how to use. I am not against Ace or anyone, but I told Matt, "I'm a technological minimalist. I use what I need and nothing more." Implication: just hold the camera in my hands and hope that the basal "balancing" neuron structure in my brain is in good operation. As Dr. Legrady (an art professor at UCSB) quoted Einstein: "Reduce systems to simplicity, but nothing simpler." So, this morning, when we had no adapter, the system was too simple: it wouldn't work. When we had a steadycam, I felt we reached a threshold of technological excessiveness. It's a phenomenon I call "overtechnologization." Typical of human society. It's like we humans are ornate with technological make up. We could scrap quite a bit of it and still function. People can just shoot me in my mouth, but it's just what I think. But what I think doesn't matter, so I'll just shut up, but no one will read this anyway because I'm just one in six billion humans so in the end it doesn't matter so I'll just say what I want. So, whatever, okay?

I left around noon, in frustration, feeling like I got nothing done, didn't help too much except print out three papers for the interview questions, try to buy equipment that we never ended up using, assemble a camera-audio system I never got to operate, and then... 11:30 hits, I'm no longer good for the interview, so I just take pictures. I wanted tangibility really bad, so I photoshopped some images and wrote a blog. I feel in a better state of zen.

As for my previous experiences in Greenscreen, that is a blog of its own. I've been invovled in two or three other interviews or filming events (some indoors and some outdoors), and have attended the good chunk of meetings, in addition to participating in a course called Films of the Human and Natural Environment (with Dr. Janet Walker and Dr. Melinda Szaloky). At first, my existence in the group had been rocky and I didn't feel too wanted around, but things are smoothing out, and things are starting to have rewarding meaning. It takes time to develop meaning in things. As I have said before, being a part of a production team is a human experiment in designing micro-government regimes. It's like experimental modern tribalism, or something like that :-). Nicole (the head of Greenscreen) philosophically tweaked in the beginning of this quarter, changing it from authoritative style to decentralized and more malleable in terms of roleplay and say. I don't have enough energy to describe everyone on the team at this time. Each person is an interesting character with his or her own unique properties and background. As of this moment, I think I have exhausted my writing attention span.

So, if anyone reads this, and this person happens to be on Greenscreen Goleta Beach, sorry if I was a pessimistic tightwad (what does tightwad mean? I hope it's something bad) today. My life condition overall is not so good, and it reflected in my attitude. Nevertheless, this kind of experience can help snap me out of my ruts too. Help me slowly dust off my knees and move on.

P.S. I really enjoyed working with Matt today, with the audio and photography. He's the main person I interacted with. Matt has a super positive attitude and is very attentive and sharp. Superb qualities that are indicators of great success!

Monday, January 14, 2008

102. Random Poem "I Told You So"

I think my mind blew a fuse in the meeting today. It is too bad this blog is public. So, I must stay vague. I feel certain things but I don't want to hurt other's feelings. I wish I could say things freely and not experience consequences for them. But now being in a social group, I already feel constrained in terms of what I can say and do. At least I created a song today. Still not good enough for a pat in the back of productivity.

Is it right for me to say:
"I told you so, I told you so."
When I said the 'xact same thing
Nearly half a year ago.
Is it right for me to say:
"I told you so, I told you so."
When ultimately the people
Come, in time, to their own terms
Come, in time, to their own terms....
O my momma always told me
The Self's the only one you know
O my momma always pinned me
The Self's the only one you control....
So there's no use to play the boss
For the only way to connect the dots
Is the Self to come to terms
Is when the people'll ever learn
Is when the Self to come to terms
Is when the people'll ever learn....
In the freedom of their minds
They search the boundaries to define.
In the freedom of their minds
They sketch the borders an outline.
They search the boundaries to define....
I told you so.
I told you so.
I fold my arms.
I told you so.
But I've been burned.
I told you so.
When will they learn?
I told you so.
"I told you so"
Is just a ghost
Just my mind's ghost
But I say no.
I say no more.
I told you so.
I say no more.
I told you so....