Tuesday, March 31, 2009
405. The Debut Printfection T-shirt Printing Experiment: "Peace, Love, and Frogs" Etcetera on www.printfection.com/questionreality
Sample Printfection Question Reality store for Peace, Love, and Frogs
"Peace, Love, and Frogs" Collage
Peace, Love, and Frogs go hand-in-hand! A t-shirt specially requested and designed for my sister, Jenny. Also my first experiment with designing and printing t-shirts at www.printfection.com/questionreality. In addition, I did this because I started to panic about the likelihood of TAing next year, and that I will have to overhaul my wardrobe. I will only be happy wearing "fashionable" clothes that I designed myself. Not the works of any other mass corporate entityt. Otherwise I make no aesthetic effort: I-am-a-baggy-plain-t-shirt-and-shorts-girl.
Question Reality Collage
Why now? Why did I start this t-shirt gig now when I had this idea in my head for over three years? When I was being an accredited t-shirt designer starting age 12? Well, why not? Let's see here. I wanted to start a website and a blog back in 2005. I cannot blame myself that the internet niche space has been rapidly shifting, but now there are companies that hold a level of stability I feel safe to experiment with. I was waiting... until innovation stabilized into Guaranteed Quality.
I think I need to snap out of the "why" question and beckon myself to "Just Do It."
I have a NEWS update--a writing class that might save my xss this quarter! A "writing about the environment" CCS course with Dr. Susan Keller, fresh out of the English Department (strange Ph.D. dissertation on make-up in English Literature). Well, what can I say? This might be my ultimate backup this quarter given that I cannot stay in Barry's course. Boohoo. But in a positive note, this class is right on the money in terms of my current needs. There is a lot of openness and suggestion as to where the class is going, but there is also structure and work ethic. We reviewed the syllabus today, in addition to critiquing two poems, which were quite a maze to me. There were a few words I did not understand. Apparently the two poets corresponded with each other competitively and collaboratively. They both painted portraits of "urban nature" back in the 1960s, organisms immersed within a human society. I enjoyed both poems. There were some original phrases I found inspirational--as an armadillo roles into a rolly polly ball or a clenched fist. Most significantly, I noticed that you can project "your inner mood" onto the description / perception of the outer environment. As Dr. Keller said, "This is not about writing about you, this is about writing about your perception of the world around you." Yep, yep, yep. I'm loving the class already....
Monday, March 30, 2009
And then after class, I am ansty because I didn't get my full jog. I am sleep-deprived and hyper all at the same time. Just got out of a 11-minute massage. Before I was thinking of TN and CE. Now that JLs around I thought getting this stupid technology-mediated, machine massage was so unfulfilling... nevertheless slowing me down, emptying my mind, and relaxing me. Stupid mammal needing a hug, dxmmit, that's all that I was doing.
I started a poem last night:
I wished my bed were in the shower
I wished I dreamed, bathed under water....
Yet the sheets of cold and arid
Took a drift to heights of desert.
And so I slept
like a half-buried mummy--
folded in unrest.
Everyone is apparently too pregnant in the head to have time to read my writing, eh? So it goes. Barry said in class that we are lucky to engage in the process of creativity, but most times we are too quick to be self judgmental and worry about what other people think, eh?! Ya!!! Just write for yourself, for the sake of writing....
I just came from Dr. Teddy Macker's axe-handle poetry course, which was packed with 20 students, myself included. But nevertheless, a very LIVELY bunch. I introduced myself as Victoria, from the dregs of Los Angeles (Riverside), but half-Greek (did not mention). Currently, I read Rudyard Kipling and Edgar Allan Poe (by accident on the internet, top 500 poems), and been appreciating the sophisticated lyrics of Jack Johnson. Basically, the metaphor of an axe coupled axe handle is used in which we can create new poetry through reading other people's poetry. Once you are given a model, you can create your own model from the fragments of other people's models. The question is, where is the line drawn between plagiarism/stealing versus inpiration/buildingblocks, or taking a piece of other people's work and implementing it in a new creation? That is a good question. For me, most often, there is an issue of independent origin of common thought. I invent something in my head and then I found out someone else already wrote about it. And I'm like, oh. I still feel master of the idea because I cultivated these thoughts in my own terms, though I feel slightly to greatly less original and worthy of much of anything. We read some poems and then we went to the Campus Lagoon to write some poems--mostly in the domain of simple language, intense detail, and trying to have an "ending punch line."
Right now I feel mentally beat up and just want to be left alone. Since I felt drained, I created a "draining" poem.
In this bleached light
I do great shame
for not trying
to playing this game
to delve down deep
down spiraled knots
from flickered feathers (when a noisy truck passed by)
of fickle thoughts.
Burn a charred shrub,
Sway a tattered web,
and there exists no means
for novelty in growth.
Basically, I am sooooo beat up. The quarter system is making me depressed. I need to break away. All words are cheap if I am bombarded once again. I need to be brave and let go of all of this, except for visiting Barry Spacks on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am going to go insane. This university mental institute I am in is going to make me go insane.
Barry asked us to vow to writing 15 minutes a day. Well, here I am, writing down all the things that Charlie Kaufman mumbles in his head and never writes down on paper. I write down the dregs. Always will. Because sometimes dregs make stories.
I read the above poem to class, and since no one heard it due to the noisy truck passing by when I was reading, Dr. Macker was kind enough to make note that it rhymed. *Sigh.* The one poem I will remember from the bunch of 20 is that of an Asian student by the name of Richard who was walking to the Campus Lagoon and completely diverged in his train of thought, and it ended up that he wrote a poem about he and his friend texting each other in concern of their stolen skateboards, and that the students were all wanting a nature poem, as if they were on this planet the last 15 seconds of their life, and he ended up reminiscing about his skateboard. Richard even had cus words in his poem. I felt that this poem encompasses the truth about our lives as students on this campus. We were bullshxt fooling ourselves trying to write some fxcking nature poem, and me? Well, I paralleled my emotions with the generic fractal shapes around me, predictable of me. The issue is, I can write the accurate humor of what Richard wrote, and I have done so in the past, but the issue is that I would have never considered this writing as a poem. It was just a journal entry/story. It's a matter of taste. At least the poem I wrote encapsulated my sense of being drained.
So the real kicker of the day is a summary of my life story. I attended the first-ever official "anthropology lecture," held by some stuffy TA with a heavy French accent. Dr. Aswani was not there, so maybe I have to attend one more time this Wednesday. This epic lecture basically summarized WHY I wrote Question Reality: An Investigation of Self-Humans-Environment, because right now, all these different fields and disciplines of the university are merging in perspectives (most notably social and natural sciences), but no one is streamlining any of the logic or knowledge. Everyone remains with their pet pea hypotheses in their respective cult disciplines--it's all the same even though it seems different, but no one is ready to acknowledge that, as indicated by this lecture. Essentially the university needs to streamline itself because redundant classes exist among ecology and evolution, earth science, geography, environmental studies, anthropology, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It's tragic. I'm sure even the undergrads are detecting a sense of redundancy.
The French chic TA recited 18 different perspectives with anthropology and ecology, and it is simply INSANE CONVERGENCE with NO CONSOLIDATION. Consider the entire university a software engineering program that is willing to synthesize but not consolidate efficiently. I didn't know a few of the "academic cliques" that were mentioned, and there were other "buz words" I know of that the temp teacher didn't mention. She also misused the words "habitat," "niche," and "adaptation." She defined adaptation so badly that I am sure my evolution professor would have yelled at her if he were in the room, and if he were in his teens, he would have shot her with a beebee gun. The adaptation definition was totally teleological. There evolves a trait--"adaptation"--or purpose, is assigned retroactively, it is chance that there is a function to the context of anything. Sheesh!
Disciplines that study the interactions between humans and their environments:
Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (NSF)
Coupled Human-Environmental Systems (CHESS, this is MINE, the synthesis of petty redundancy)
sociobiology (evolutionary psychology) (EO Wilson?)
panarchy / ecological economics (Holling)
evolutionary social constructionism
physical / biological / cultural geography
human dimensions of environmental change (my advisor Oran's research)
common pool resources (indigenous knowledge and environmental decision-making, scale issue)
environmental determinism (environmental conditionality)
environmental possibility (The Serenity Prayer Poem, engineers' research degree of freedom-constraint, he's at Duke, what's his name?)
environmental sociology (Dr. Freudenberg)
ethnoecology (conceptualizing the environment, definitions, classifications)
cultural materialism (production of materials, development, social relationships)
systems ecology (funk daddy complex math models)
evolutionary ecology (the Botanist from EEMB?, Susan Mazer?)
political ecology (e.g. tracing the food on your dinner table plate)
historical ecology (land use history, coupled long term human-environmental change)
spiritual ecology (interface of religion and ecology, institutions-fads, codes of ethics, assumptions) radical ecology (environmental disaster and human disaster)
deep ecology / green ecology (stuff covered in Flmstudies 183 films of the human and natural environment, Naess, tenants of deep ecology, not in complete agreement)
ecofeminism (the role of women in human-environmental change)
ecopsychology (ecology and human psychology)
post-modernist ecology (I think I am one of this, the notion of objectivity is moot, humans are a part of the system, GONZO SCIENCE, construction of objective reality is moot, it's all relative, in non-traditional publishing means)
metaphor and scale (that's me!)
[INSERT MORE DISCIPLINES HERE]
So, as I said before, I look at this list and I feel three things: (1) I am thankful I wrote Question Reality because now I have a straight head and understand all the assumptions and what fits where regardless of the absurd compartmentalization of disciplines, (2) I feel sorry for the undergrad students who have to memorize this bullshxt rather than use their intuition to synthesize the assumptions behind all the jargon, and (3) this lecture saved a LOT of legwork for me in terms of knowing the "search terms" of the literature, so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I should show Oran this list and see how he responds, and this should be a part of a film script on the natural history of the university. Academics married their minds to the literature, not to reality of experience or intuition. In short, this is the most pathetic, humorous lecture I have ever heard. The summation of academic absurdity. This lecture is basically solid script material for a movie on graduate students and where they fit in the university and the world in general. It's all about how you approach the human/environment problem... just like Hollywood, as I said before. So, this is probably one reason why I'm going insane.
Other than that, this UCSB campus is still a ghost town, though it's the first day of spring quarter, 2009. Everyone is having one more day in Cancun or chillin' with their parents, or more likely their hometown friends. Everyone is "over it," including myself. Spring quarter sucks, unless you know you are graduating in June.
This morning Barry went through a series of "writing wisdoms" in the process of creativity. Here are a few that I remember, but I'm sure I'll add more later.
**Writing requires sadistic isolation in space and time. Virginia Wolf, a room of her own. You are around people, you are collecting data, when you are writing your Ph.D. you now have to process and organize all this information into a very condensed stories.
**Mark Twain said that "adjectives and adverbs" were evil. And I say, NO. You know what? No flipping way. I think that's what makes my EOT story different from the dry drone of most writing. I see the world in hypersaturation (when I'm not drained), and I think that adjectives and adverbs add precision and emotional dimensions to the activities.
**Jealousy breeds creativity. An ape, chest-beating stand-up show. I admit to that. That's the only ape-beating thing I can actually do! (from Teddy Macker)
**Tom Clancy. "The difference between fiction and reality. Fiction has to make sense." Consistency of emotions, logic, space, and time.
**V.S. Naipaul. "I have trusted to intuition. I did it at the beginning. I do it even now. I have no idea how things might turn out, where in my writing I might go next." Barry Spacks adds, "My poems are smarter than I am." The genius of fleeting creativity--1% inspriation and 99% perspiration.
**Gloria Steinem. "Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." Barry adds, "Writing requires full consciousness, full attention."
**"Being famous is a luck thing. But the one opportunity in life I would always crave to have is to be creative." (Barry Spacks quote)
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Today, March 29, 2009, is my cousin Mike Dillin's birthday! About TWO YEARS AGO, Mike asked me to create a business card for him. Today, I am fulfilling this task, in honor of his birthday. In one way, I feel ashamed that it took me this long to do something. To fulfill a task. I am in immense backlog, as you can see. Yet in a certain way, I am glad I waited because I garnered several skills that allowed me to create the business card above, which I would have not been able to create otherwise. I also admit that Mike showed me about a month ago a business card that someone else made for him. I became very jealous and competitive, and I decided to outdo the existing card in quality. I only act egotistically when it comes to artistic creativity! Though the card I designed is very colorful and Mike thinks I'm a Bollywood type, I sincerely hope he likes it! *Ah!* He's a critic, but I don't mind. I know it's out of TLC.
and I looked to the fire-coated mountains
of southern California
in comfort with Fiona Apple,
"If you don't have a song to sing,
you know how to get along humming..."
And instead I shattered tears,
The bell was rung.
There was no going back.
I realized I lost my grandfather.
This is Sophie--one of my sister's (Jenny) best friends she unfortunately cannot marry--almost all the time. Talk about chronic excitement!
This is Victoria--Jenny's sister--who becomes "crazy psycho" right before the quarter starts. Thankfully, it only happens... right before the quarter starts. This is probably the craziest dance video of Victoria in existence. She's blowing off her professionalism, right here and now. Not to mention, she was inspired to do this dance by the one and only... Sophie... as seen above... as well as writing a short article on the Dance Your Ph.D. Contest (the grand finale shown in Chicago).
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I am so excited, Barry Spacks is about to have a "finish your big project" type of College of Creative Studies class, and I have to email him to see if I can be a part of it.... My work ethic has dramatically improved since I found this out... just 1.5 hours ago!
Fringes of the Grid
I find comfort
at the fringes of the grid.
The coral reef corners
for a fair, feisty squid.
Spreading her tentacles
fast, wide, and far,
As soon as she swelled,
Cavin' in, fell apart.
Many zooid boxes full of
Overwhelming her by their
She couldn't understand, so
she couldn't all grasp,
The craze she was seeing--
un-feasible in digest.
And-on she found a deep-dark-
deep dungeon lair,
The fringes of the grid, full of
light fresh air.
She made a comfort rest as she
Filterin' through trials all calm
So-to cast her webbed net
An'the fringes of the grid, where she's
And the fringes of the grid,
for a fair, feisty squid.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
399. "CHESS: Poetry of Human-Environmental Change," Vic's First Book of Poetry Currently in Peer-Review
A tangible product of winter quarter, finally manifested! "CHESS: Poetry of Human-Environmental Change." After being filtered by the mind of Barry Spacks, I feel confident enough to present to the world a suite of poems which essentially serves as an "outline" to a longer piece I must inevitably write.
Above is a widget that serves as a "Mini Storefront" to my Lulu identity on http://lulu.com/questionreality. Below is a little "buy it now" doohickie from Lulu. I guess the essence of this entire blog and this form of self-publishing is the do-it-yourself mentality. You don't need to be endorsed by a mass-production corporation such as Penguin in order to create and distribute great writing... not to say that my writing is great at all... a bit of an overstatement, I should say.
“Stokastika!” Victoria Minnich, a Ph.D. student in environmental science and management/ environmental media at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is a chronic seeker of order from chaos. A bold and daring exploration of scale and metaphor through the unconstrained means of poetry, Victoria asks timely questions, and in the process, surges an influx of grand themes of environmental philosophy and artful scientific dialect into the realm of literature and the humanities. CHESS is a debut collection of poetry.It is difficult to write my own abstract, because I have to be in a mode of "self-glorification... within relative moderation." I don't want to toot my own horn, but the marketing system requires me to do so.
"CHESS: Poetry of Human-Environmental Change" Hugging / Formatting / Sandwiching a Manuscript to Make a Book. Writing and hugging a manuscript requires a lot of patience and precision, which required a "time out from life," or experiencing the world. I actually hid for a few days in Buellton, California (Pea Soup Heaven!) in order to work on the detailed nuance of editing the poems and formatting the book... which includes a book cover (front, back, spine), title page cover, copyright page, devotions, table of contents, introduction, parceling up poetry into chapters (I have seven chapters, I think!), and some form of conclusion page, adding page numbers, formatting with pdf (that was a battle!), and a few other residual items on the list I don't have on the top of my head...
Above is a collection of images involved in the formation of the logo / symbolic illustration for CHESS, entitled "Oak Tree Mind / Emerging Transcendence." Still not sure which title should be used, but I write down both to capture the attention of the search engines. I showed the illustration to my friend, Shannon, and she really liked it.... It can potentially be used within the literary magazine!
Below is a list of links of major documents available for FREE to paruse through:
CHESS Sample that Lulu requires for authors to make as a "preview" for the book: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/1CHESSsample2smaller.pdfCHESS Interior Title Page: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/2CHESStitlepage1.pdf
CHESS Copyright Page (without a Library of Congress Number, and Presently without an ISBN Number, will need more feedback before I will invest $100 on a barcode): http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/3CHESScopyrightpage1.pdfCHESS Table of Contents: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/4CHESStableofcontents.pdf
CHESS Final Page in the Back: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/5CHESSfinalpage1.pdf"CHESS: Poetry of Human-Environmental Change" the COMPLETE BOOK: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/6CHESSebook2smaller.pdf
CHESS Storefront from Lulu: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/7CHESSpoetrystorefront1smaller.pdfQuestion Reality / Stokastika Storefront with CHESS on the Top, from Lulu: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/8QuestionRealityLuluStorefront1small.pdf
This is not an all-inclusive blog. What I would like to summarize in a future blog is (1) What is CHESS all about? Where do all the ideas come from? What is the context? (2) Where am I heading next in the world of poetry? and (3) Some fundamental Life Principles that I learned from Barry Spacks' course... and any other miscellaneous ideas....
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
It's easy to learn
How to do anything
Once you have something
Urgent to say.
Today I confessed to Barry Spacks my tainted past with "the real world" of writing. We discussed the dichotomies between the "sheltered university" and the "real world," in which the university, people become so oblivious and immune to the outer world, and in the outer world, survival requires some level of skills, and mostly connections, and a lot of luck of being at the right place and the right time. But it is always an interaction between chance opportunity meeting a prepared mind. They are both very different games to play, and being sheltered in the university certainly doesn't help. As Al Gore is in the 10th step of the 12-step Recovery Politician Mode, I myself am on the 9th or 10th step of the 12-step Recovery Writer Mode, after being exposed to the brutality of anonymity and apathy of the real world.
Barry mentioned that there is a Tibetan/Buddhist saying about two arrows. The first arrow hit/whacked my chest and then it fell to the ground at my feet. He then asked me what would happen to the second arrow. Me? Guess that? What? I first asked him how come the arrow did not penetrate my chest in the first place. He then stated that the saying wouldn't work if that happened. And I said, oh. Then I asked, can I do something to the arrow that fell off the ground. Why sure! he remarked. I scratched my chin, paused, then resumed to say that I would pick up the arrow and transform an object of pain to an object of solutions to the pain--an arrow that transforms negative into positive. Barry was impressed by the answer because the saying actually entails the notion on how humans tend to dwell in their negativity--the usual ending to the story is that people tend to pick up the arrow and stab themselves in the heart. I was shocked and mentioned that this was my mentality in high school--carrying the baggage of self destruction. But pain is important to go through because they make great stories once it is the right time for me to reflect upon these painful times.
At the end of our parting from a "typical," very engaging office hours chat, I gave Barry my final workshop poem which entailed a teaser:
The Barry Spacks Theory of Poetry
But spare me.
There are no rules.
Anything is possible.
He mentioned that it was very nicely summarized--something that he tries to do in 4000 words is crystallized in four lines. I wanted to show Barry that I appreciate this advice, and that I was listening this entire quarter, though I had my periods of quietness (depending on what was going on in my life). I shook his hand, and I was off. I know this won't be the end of anything, though it was my last official class of the quarter. I know with Barry, this is just the beginning.
I thought this would be an opportunity, since it was the last day of class, to document a typical--or atypical day in class. On our Monday meeting, Barry asked us individually what we could do to improve the class, and he applied two or three suggestions instantly into this last Wednesday class. Like ten minutes of writing in the beginning of class, and an unexpected guest speaker! Unfortunately, I tend to crawl into class 5 minutes late, simply because I feel like I am behind in my mind, and then I show up late to almost everything I do. By the time I entered class, everyone received a poetry exercise handout. We all then went through a two-minute meditation of complete silence to empty our heads, and then started our exercise, which follows like this:
Jim Simmerman's poem-writing provocation "Twenty Little Poetry Projects"
8 Little Poetry Projects
1. Begin a poem with something specific but utterly preposterous (outrageous)?
2. Now, change direction: digress from the last thing you said.
3. Use a simile or metaphor.
4. Contradict something said earlier in the poem.
5. Go on a bit of "talk" you've actually heard (faking that you've actually heard it is allowed).
6. Make the speaker or persona or main character in the poem do something he/she/it would be extremely unlikely to do in "real life."
7. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
8. Close the poem with a vivid image that "echoes" an image from earlier in the poem (or simply repeats an earlier image).
I am very proud to say that within 7 minutes I was able to concoct a poem I would have never dreamt to have written if it weren't for this class. I have brinked the realm of unrealistic absurdity, and I am proud of it. I am always excited to discover and exercise new habits, and then work hard to break them, and find something new. So, here goes the poem:
A baby grew out of my sixth finger
and a nematode crawled under my toenail.
They were all parasites.
Lucky me, they were outside
Another baby grew from the split ends of my hair
and the nematode jumped to the other toenail.
It's quite unequitable, unfair,
for one to be supplied by cold blood
and the other by dead cells,
and even shields of organic armor!
They were all parasites,
but instead of plucking
and cutting them off,
I let them stay and grow on me
just for one full-moon day
just for one sun-dipped night
just to see how it was like
to hold life.
Even though they were parasites,
And just for this short bit of time,
They got inside.
They all got inside.
To be honest, I would have NEVER ever written a poem such as this if it weren't for this class. It's absurd, silly, and I could say that Ryan Hechinger, parasite guru, inspired me, because he decided to nurse a botfly in his skin. You only encounter these characters in the realm of biology and geology.
We started reading some residual poetry from the "samplers," given out. And I was thankful one student read my poem, Matrix of Metaphors, and everyone agreed, including Ingred Wendt, a very accomplished poet and surprise guest speaker for the day, that the poem was very dense, and she would have to read the poem a few times to get it. First of all, if you were a philosopher of science, or a film-maker, you would get it right away, because the philosopher of science would know about Aristotle and his explanation of metaphors--making comparisons of systems--whether they were figurative or valuable as scientific theory--or Truth. I beat Aristotle by two days. I wrote the poem independent of knowing what Aristotle thought, and two days later I found out through my reading that he made the same distinction I had. Talk about independent origin of thought!
Ingred is a very interesting character. She flew all the way from Eugene, Oregon, and will do a poetry reading at 4pm at the College of Creative Studies Little Theater. Ingred most noticeably admits that she has ADHD, which is an advantage for a poet, and then Barry asked whether you could buy some ADHD from the store, and which one? Ha! I only have ADHD post sugar-consumption. She has a very strong bond with a renowned poet by the name of William Stafford. A couple of noteable books include Sturgeonfish and In Her Own Image. Some interesting commentary and quotes below:
(1) I did not know the more that I drank the world of poetry, the thirstier I would get (positive feedback).
(2). At first when she strated writing, it was like running dry, you sit down to write and have nothing to say, which is sad. Over time, you have too much to say and not enough time to write.
(3). "I don't know who you are, you don't know who I am" a poem by William Stafford, lots of darkness in the world, more philosophical poem.
(4). "It sounds like I have done a lot of stuff, but you know what? I've lived a really long time!"
(5). The longer you live, the more opportunities you get. You gotta take advantage of them. That's your job."
So? Okay. The last thing before I talk about... the class being ajourned, Barry and I put our heads together and had a vivid talk about how to organize a chapbook. He discussed continuity, variety, with the first and last poems being very strong. He also mentioned a sequence of poems as a series of conversations. If it's a longer piece, it will be a series of sections. Things I have already considered are mixing short with long poems, rhyming poems with non-rhyming poems, varying the theme or angle for diversity purposes, as well as considering an order or progression of logic.
After the poetry class, I mozied on to the Graduate Student Association and snagged a cup of orange juice. I ran into Julian and we both buzzed about the upcoming Human Behavior and Evolution Conference up at Cal State Fullerton. He might be able to help me spin my AAAS poster into something workable within the framework of the conference. Maybe I should just attend. We'll see.
It's nice to document a snapshot of time from the Winter Quarter of 2009. If I did this every day, I am sure I would go nuts. Barry Spacks is most certainly one of the most profound and approachable professors I have met and interacted with on the humanities side. I feel a lot more level-headed now that I can filter the world partly through his eyes and mind. As he said, one day, Victoria, all the jitters will go away. Close to nothing will surprise you anymore. I want to keep being surprised, I just don't want to be so overwhelmed. On that note, and on superb dreamlike note, I will be volunteering for the Origins Conference (I had a strange dream last night about the conference, that I was at Arizona State University and they had this cubic-like zeplin ball that was remote controlled by graduate students and it was flying all over campus because there's nothing else to do out there in the desert. Don't ask me why I had this dream, but I know this is a repeat dream, and it was SO vivid) under the advisor ship of Jessica Lee and Lawrence Krauss. It will be a life-changing experience! I am so excited I want to call my dad, but he's in Arizona right now... frustratingly. *Sigh*
Thanks, Barry. One more time.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
This is so fun!!!
It has been a long, long time since I have blogged, and it is a difficult question to ask "where to start." Now, there is more time on my hands, the best place of initiation is to rewind the clock, and dig deep down that rabbithole, that "giant ecosystem" swimming in Victoria's head.
To say in short, I have surved the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Conference (Chicago, 2009), had my first successful poster session in my graduate career (interviewed by an award-winning Korean journalist, science-art biologist from Northwestern University, an AAAS science-technology policy fellow from Washington DC, and an anthropologist from University of Chicago, not to mention some interesting guy affiliated with Marxism, and an enthusiastic 9-year-old girl dissected a frog in first grade and wanted to simultaneously become a gymnast, singer, and a scientist (and I said, believe it or not, it IS possible), met the players behind the Gonzo Scientist column, which I had dreamt about meeting for a long time (in which now I treasure as dear friends!), watched the "This is Science" dance performance, took millions of photographs from the airplane, came home to Santa Barbara and finally finished a California Marine Life Protection Act Regime Profile and Opinions Article (which had been looming over my head for over a month like an unwanted tumor in my brain), had slowed down my participation with SciArts (to my dismay, I'm so swamped), went to San Diego for a weekend to go fishing for lobster and the like, and then my mind, which had been on a ferris wheel, spinning to no where in particular (and way too fast), had come to slow down and wiped to a blank slate, as I had been taken off the ferris wheel, and asked the question, "Where exactly am I at?" Good question. It was a celebratory weekend between an educated idiot and an unincorporated academic, and I returned to UCSB somewhat fresh, though still out of context. I had come to realize what a mess I was in, and it took me nearly three days of running mindless errands to catch up with the visceral, physical world of maintenance (in which I still don't totally feel caught up), to top it off, a pleasant visitation with Dr. Melack on the byproducts of the AAAS conference.
My mind, wiped to such a blank slate, was open enough to learning Adobe Flash, a software program that allows dummies like me to incorporate motion into my website. I had been haunted by the words of Maria Gordon, who once told me that websites that don't incorporate the slightest bit of motion end up being very dull and boring. And I agree, but I felt very incapacitated. Fortunately, the week of my return to UC Santa Barbara, the Instructional Computing Group at UC Santa Barbara offered two Adobe Flash workshops, and I managed to construct the two flash systems above, of course with a little bit of help.
It's funny, back in the Fall of 2007, I was exposed to Adobe Flash through a CCS multi-media course taught by Graham Wakefield. I was so overwhelmed by that point that I had no ability to synthesize all that I experienced in the two days of lecture. All I remember was learning about the history of cinema, and it ended up that film started in the hands of comparative photography of horses running by a behavioral ecologists. Film was started by SCIENTISTS! Dxmmit! And then took a huge turn and headed toward the taking pictures of naked women rather than comparative animal behavior. *Sigh.* Such is the origins of Hollywood. I also remember Graham asking the fundamental question as to whether we visually process the world in a continuum or in discrete chunks. As if the dual wave-particle theory had been scaled out to apply to the very perception of our eyes. I think that we perceive in discrete chunks, and that our vision is pixelated, because we have a finite amount of rods and cones, and that that each rod and cone can only take in only so much information.
So it goes.
But to get to the point, this overwhelmingly chaotic class had come to sink into my psyche like a ghost that would never leave, and then somehow, when taking the first Flash class under the mentorship of a very nice, humble undergrad by the name of Luis, I was able to ask all the questions that I wanted to know: how do you import visuals? how do you import audio? how do you make one picture fade to another picture (alpha tint)? how do you make objects to move (it's all about TWEENS! setting beginning and ending points, inserting frames)? rotate? change color? what is the fundamental workflow? how do you save the files? what are the file formats (fla html swf)? How do you get the html code so that you can place it on to a blog (have to open up the html or swf file in notepad).
Somehow, the chaos of the past seemed to click into place. My mind is so mysterious in its operations. I'm sure Luis was partly annoyed that I asked so many questions. But I was determined to master these demons!
The result is above. I am happy. I have fundamentally expanded my horizons in website design. I am learning how to tinker with blogger as well. Not only that, I have been messing around with Weeble at http://www.weeble.com, and it seems like an ideal website for the simplest of functions. I am feeling more and more "powerful" every single day!