Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

neato-skeeto kids, a snakey question and an update

This evening we attended a football banquet for Tony and Tee. Tony lettered again, which was a really great ending to his high school football days. I hope that if he'd like to play football in college, he'll get an opportunity to do so.

To our excitement, Tee won the Coaches' Award for the freshman team. This award was for the kid who was always working hard, learning, growing and cheerful, even if he didn't get much time on the field during a game. He absolutely loves football, and worked extra hard this year, so it was super to see that the coaches noticed and appreciated his positive attitude.

One of our other neato kids, Rosie, has been working in the biology lab at the college she attends. This is extra cool, since she's only a junior in high school and attending college. She helps take care of all the lab animals-- animal huggers, please note these are not experiment subjects, but animals the students can observe. Anyhoo, one of the animals in the lab that she cares for is a red-tailed boa. Recently, the snake shed its skin, and the guy who's the head honcho of the lab offered it to her, so she could bring it home. Now we have this smelly snake skin out in our garage that she's quite fond of. She's like to put it into a shadow box. 1) Does anyone know how to treat the skin to get rid of the icky odor and keep it from deteriorating and 2) Is it worth our time to build a shadow box, or will it just degrade in there no matter what we do? The skin is quite long, so we'll probably need to custom build some sort of shadow box. TIA for any advice you can pass along, dear readers.

On to an update: I'm not finished with my project =(. The good news is my computer network is working better, so I've made some headway.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

re: my project

Update: My project is behind schedule. I've been having slow connectivity issues, after some power outages. I'm afraid our router and modem are on their last legs. I'll press on, but my new projected completion date is Tuesday the 21st.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More Let's Yak About Art and an update

This will be a brief Let's Yak About Art. Artist and author Eric Carle is the subject of a special exhibit at the Tacoma Museum of Art. The exhibit opened October 7th, and will be around until January 21, 2007.

An article in the Seattle PI discussed the exhibit and a recent visit to the museum by Carle. Included in the article was a brief biography. When Carle was 6 years old, his parents, German immigrants, returned to Germany. The year was 1935, and one of his grandmothers told his folks that Hilter was going to return prosperity to Germany. Unfortunately, they believed her and returned home, only to find heart ache and tragedy.

One of the bright spots in Carle's dismal childhood were occasional art lessons. His teacher, putting himself at risk, showed his student copies of great artists' work which had been banned by Hitler, panned as "degenerate art." Sharing these works made an impression on Carle, and the freedom within art these artstists embraced can be seen in Carle's work today.

The exhibit features 50 collages by Carle, on loan from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. They're handpainted, tissue paper collages, the originals of the art that have appeared in his picture books.

An update: I'm about half way through with my project. I hope to be finished by friday, and unveil it over the weekend.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

short hiatus for a project and a bloggy warning

I received the alert today about the impending switch from Blogger format to the beta Blogger design. I thought, "What the hell," and switched. If you haven't switched over yet, I caution you to wait and research your options. I wasn't pleased with the widget selections, and when I read over what happens to your blog when you switch over, I didn't have a full understanding of what would be lost. Thankfully, I was able to revert to my "classic" Yak Attack template, for now. I'm not sure how long it will be available, though.

I'll not be blogging for a few days. I'm working on a special project, and I'll post updates as I progress. For now, I leave you with a couple of things to check out:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Let's Yak About Art.. it's been awhile

Blogging about Chris Harris' photographs got the arty fluids flowing.

Let's yak a bit about the art of Kathe Kollowitz. She was a printmaker, sculpter, drawer and artist extraordinaire. She chronicled the journeys of the poor, the edges of society, in Germany between the 19th and 20th century. You can read a biography of her life here.

One of her favorite mediums was lithography. This is what Lew does every day, making paper art with ink and water. Kollowitz used copper plates with her art etched in it, along with some various techniques, to create the texture she was seeking. Lew uses aluminium plates and computer files, along with some various techniques, to do the same.

Part of the print and drawing collection at the Portland Art Museum is a Kollowitz lithograph produced in 1921. It's titled Mothers (Mutters).

The first piece of a four part series by Kollowitz is titled Self Portrait with Hand of Death. It's a charcoal drawing dated from 1924. She went on to create a lithograph and a woodcut that use the same pose with some variance in the darkness on the prints. The links to these works on the Oberlin site don't have web addresses, so you'll need to click on the links that are below the picture of Self Portrait with Hand of Death. The last piece in the series, Call of Death, shows Kollowitz in a different pose with the hand of death nearing her face. In this lithograph, her features are almost obliterated by blackness. She created these works during a difficult time in her life, after her son's death in World War 1. Death and dying was a central theme to much of her artistic endeavors.

Her piece Lamentation: In Memory of Ernst Barlach, who died in 1938 is discussed here and beautifully photographed here. It's one of her metal art pieces, cast in bronze.

Besides witnessing societal oppression from poverty and experiencing personal grief through the death of her loved ones, Kollowitz was both ostracized and used by the Nazi regime. She was forced from the Prussian Academy of Arts by the Nazis, and her work was banned from exhibition due to her political leanings as a socialist and pacifist. However, they also used some of her work, like
Brot, in propaganda. She refused to cooperate with fascism, but she also refused to leave her country. Her grandson, her husband and she all died before the end of WW2.

Slathering on cancer-juice ..... but doesn't it make me look pretty?

When I took some classes at the UW to improve my writing skills, one of my fellow classmates chose as a assignment subject the dangers of U.S. cosmetics. It was the first I'd heard about the possible dangers of parabens. I knew tolulene possessed bad juju, but what was dibutyl phthalate? DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine) is in like every shampoo in the supermarket, isn't it? I was intrigued by her work and research. I've wondered about the scented lotion I purchase at the bath shop in the mall, and the soap I use almost compulsively as I putter around the kitchen. Are these products exposuring me to cancer causing chemicals?

Here's an article about some worshops in the Seattle area on cosmetic chemicals. The forums have come and gone, but the article lists some of the chemicals to avoid, and gives tips on products that try to avoid them, like Kiss Your Face, which makes the face moisturizer I use (and raved about on January 14, 2006).

The PI article contains helpful information about what you might be using to preen with. Just ignore the dunderhead quotes in the article a.k.a
"The government is supposed to protect the people from these sorts of things," said Jimm Harrison.....

Monday, November 06, 2006

Let's Yak About Art and an explanation

Back in July, I began to relate to you, my readers, what my trip to the Bowron Lakes Provincial Park was like. I shared up through Day 4, and then I stopped. I started to type up part of Day 5, but lost heart. I was still so excited about the fact that Tee and I made it through the whole experience, that I didn't want to dwell on some of the more negative aspects of our trip. I chose, instead, to not continue the story for the time being. I didn't want to break the spell this majestic area caught me up in.

Starting on Day 5, our trip had turned for the worst. We had some of the crummiest weather imaginable. Okay, I take that back. It didn't actually snow; we just had some rain mixed with snow and bouts of hail that day. We entered the river portion of our trip, as well, and it took a toll on our nerves as the water mutated from Carribean blues and aquamarines to chalky, milky liquid as clear as a cup of coffee mixed with ample powdered creamer from the local convenience mart. Two of the boys in our group were capsized by deadheads on our Green River trip, and their tension on the rivers was immense.

On Day 5, a group of Canadian fishermen asked if I was along on the trip to be the group's cook. On the one hand, the men of our group were horrified at the fact that those guys asked such a question. On another hand, I was the butt of all the "Cookie" jokes. The worst damage was that the men in our cozy band appeared afraid to be lumped in with the Canadian fishermen's bias, and they treated me with kid gloves even more. They didn't want me to participate in camp chores; when it was my turn on the roster to cook dinner, they didn't want me to fix the meal. I really needed a friend, as all of us had drooping spirits, but this was the pinnacle of my loneliness on the circuit.

We were all ice cubes when we reached the public shelter on Lanezi Lake, our end destination for Day 5. I'd donned rain pants half way through our canoeing day, to try and warm my frozen legs. As we reached our goal, and started pulling in toward shore, I fell as I tried to climb out of the canoe. The pant legs of the rain gear I'd borrowed from Lew were too long for me, and caused me to stumble, submerging my whole body in the frigid water. Not an inch of me was dry, nor warm. After we finished our beaching chores and got a fire going in the shelter, I still didn't have the luxury of changing. There was no place private to change. I'd hide my eyes as boys hid behind each other, sloughing off drenched gear. There was no one to help me be modest. I ended up, finally, after I couldn't bear the chill any longer, changing in one of the kybos. Even then, the lock didn't work well, and one of the kids burst in on me as I was pulling up my fleece pajama bottoms.

I think I had a touch of hypothermia, but the warm fire and coffee, plus some quiet reading time, helped. What didn't help was that we had a passel of folks from around the world sharing the same shelter, to keep out of the inclement weather. Someone nicked my drying polypro long underwear and my swimming trunks. Being down two clothing items (one of which was my warmest), for a person that bled on everything else they had, was a disheartening experience.

Day 6 held some of the most spectacular scenery of our trip. The hike to the 80 foot Cariboo River Falls was incredible. We also had to dig far reaching trenches around all of our tent pads to keep them from flooding in torrential downpours, as our camp area was at the bottom of a hill, and the rainwater slid down the hill, racing toward Rum Lake. This was also the day of the 3 inch long, black leeches. The calls of the pair of loons almost made up for the miserable wetness of Day 6.

Day 7, Tee suffered from hypothermia. His fleece jacket got soaked, and his rain jacket was so saturated that it stopped being waterproof. Not one of his pieces of clothing was dry. We had to stop the group and cobble together some dry clothing and a dry stocking cap, cover him with a neon orange emergency poncho, cinched at the waist. The quick action of Vlad the firefighter, after he saw me trying to help Tee find something dry to wear, stemmed the horrible shivering my boy was experiencing. We then had to press on. Otherwise, he'd have been in even worse shape. This also was the day of never-ending mini portages that L hadn't really told us much about. One campsite we stumbled upon was closed, due to bear activity. We also almost had a mini-mutiny, when all the older boys wanted to go ahead and canoe back to the Lodge on Bowron Lake, which was another whole day's worth of canoeing. Tee and Little D wouldn't have made it, so Pirate Jay had to squash the mutinous behavior. Yet, I was left with the impression that Pirate Jay and his 3 friends wanted to move on as much as the older boys did, and that they were a wee bit resentful when Renton and I stood up for our sons. We knew our kids wouldn't make the trip, and then we'd be in a world of hurt.

Day 7 was also the day the bear invaded our campsite. I was napping in our tent, when the bear made his first foray into camp. Tee stopped by to wake me, "just to let me know he, and the guys, would be heading to the shelter down the beach. Just to play cards." No mention of the reason for the mass exodus-- you know, that bear. The men stayed behind, debating if I was crazy, or delirious, for my supposedly relaxed response to the bear. They didn't know Tee never mentioned the animal to me. When the bear made attempt #2 into camp, they chased it away by banging cooking pots with wooden spoons, and waking me up as well. I climbed out of the tent, found out Tee's omision, and we all hi-tailed it to the shelter.

Day 8 was the only day I cried, really cried. I had a few moments where I'd tear up for a minute, from fear, frustration or exhaustion, but I didn't have a full-out, good cry. When we reached the shore of Bowron Lake, and I realized we'd made it-- we did it without maiming ourselves-- I bawled. I also broke down that evening when one of the adults in the other canoe group, the self appointed co-president of A.N.A.L., tried to make Tee and Little D sleep on the floor of an overcrowded cabin, when their cabin had been given away on accident by the Lodge . We had room in the "girls' cabin." D and I were the mothers of the two boys in question, but no, this man wouldn't stand for this supposed breech of BSA rules. I wasn't going to give in without a fight. We'd made it through our 8 days on the circuit, without an experienced guide, to only come back and face the possibilty of another broken bone just because this authoritarian said so. It almost came to blows-- this joker doesn't know how close he came to being pummled. The experience, so anticlimatic in comparision to the celebration that should have been occuring, brought me to tears, massive amounts of them.

This is where Let's Yak about Art comes in. Chris Harris, among his numerous accolades, has been a Bowron circuit guide for 35 years. He's also an incredible photographer and published several books that include his photographs. We had the opportunity on our trip home to visit his gallery. The side trip to Harris' gallery was the tiara upon the rag-festooned conclusion to our trip.

If you're ever in South Cariboo, I encourage you to take a detour off the beaten path to his gallery. It really is straw bale construction, as is his house, and it's gorgeous. The landscape is all plantings native to the British Columbia praire, an endangered ecosystem. Mr. Harris gave us a special tour of his gallery, and explained the photo technique he uses to take pictures like Forest Trail.

You can take a look at his web gallery here. Of course, my favorite photos of his are of the Bowron circuit. You can feel the breeze, smell the crisp air and experience the gentle sway of the canoe as you view his work. Toward the Chute holds a special place in my heart, and I purchased a small print of this photo. We had the best day at the Chute, riding the river current with our pfds helping us bob along. The double rainbow over the Isaac River, blueberry pancakes and meeting a new friend made the Chute a place of special meaning in my personal sphere.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

fearmongering with a little side of fright

I don't know why I did it-- maybe it was the nausea seeking company. I wasn't feeling well at all yesterday afternoon, so I crawled into bed and turned on the tube for some white noise. I ended up watching the national news on one of the big three stations, and I was transfixed. Not on the news, silly; it was the commercials that caught my attention. I watched the (mostly) slop for approximately 20 minutes, and during that slice of time I saw no fewer than six medicinal commericials.

I learned that Robert Jarvick, who invented one version of the artificial heart, is hawking Lipitor. I was dazzled by Nexium's esophageal healing properties. The Nasonex bee and SIM looking people were the Anticute. GlaxoSmithKline folks are researching bird flu to make us all safer. After this, the commercials began to blur. I know they had to do with medicine; they all had side effects-- you know, like palsy, night sweats, unexplained love for politicians and body hair loss.

Most of the news, a fog of fearmongering, cut to 60 second shorts to induce you into fright over your health. If you don't take this medication, look what's going to happen to you (and what really could happen to you if you take it is read at a clip that breaks the sound barrier). Thankfully, the news ended and another show took its place; I was released from my drug brainwash-fest.

Shame on me-- I know better than to watch the evening news. Its effects are worse than those brought on by the pharma du'jour

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift Wins a Distinguished Alumnus award from Seattle University Law School

Swift is representing Salim Hamdan, who is currently held at Guantanamo Bay. This is the Navy lawyer that challenged the tribunal system favored by the Bush administration; he took his challenge all the way to the Supreme Court and won. For his trouble, Swift has been passed up for promotion and will be forced into retirement. Now with the Military Commissions Act, his successful court case is null and void.

After he accepted the award, he stayed on in Seattle and participated in a panel that spoke to current law students. You can read the article about the panel discussion here . Take the time to read it; there's an interesting snippet at the end of the article, about a visit to Hamdan's family in Yemen.