Archive for October, 2013

Two interesting things that have occurred.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

1. I paid $99 to spit in a vessel and send it off to the DNA-testing company 23andme to find out neat things about myself. I thought maybe I would find out some cool secrets, like I’m a distant relative of Genghis Khan or something, but it turns out that all the test did was confirm things I already believed to be true. I thought I was Jewish. Guess what? I’m SUPER-Jewish.

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You know how most people are 1/4 French and 1/4 Irish and 1/16 Cherokee, etc. because we live in a melting pot? Not me. My mother said, “Oh, you’re just purebred,” and I said, “No, I’m just inbred and I would appreciate if all your stupid relatives had maybe dated outside the one shtetl in Luthania that we all came from because it’s a miracle that I don’t have an arm growing out of my back.” My DNA is a straight up-and-down staircase, no twisty. If I believed in reincarnation, in a past life I was a pushcart on the Lower East Side that sold rags and potatoes and in my next life I will be a plastic sandwich bag filled with diamonds being passed from Hassid to Hassid on 47th Street. That’s how Jewish I am. A pleasant but ultimately pointless thing the test told me was that I am not a carrier for Tay Sachs Disease or Familial Dysautonomia, both distinctly Ashkenazi diseases. So if I had planned to have children (I don’t) with another Jew (Cricket is a lapsed Christian) my child would not be at risk for either of those.

This was interesting discovery:

warmhoney

Huh. Anyone remember my reaction to Dilaudid? Or when I watched that episode of Intervention and the girl described what heroin feels like and I was tantalized (her exact phrase was “warm honey running through your veins,” which, I’m sorry, sounds delicious)? I’m going to have to keep an eye on that. Stay away from alleys and teaspoons.

I learned that this is a thing:

Maple Syrup Urine Disease Type 1B
Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is a metabolic disorder caused by genetic mutations that inhibit the breakdown of certain amino acids. The disease takes its name from the sweet smell that the amino acid buildup imparts to the urine and earwax of children born with MSUD. Left untreated this disease can lead to coma and death in newborns. But with careful dietary management, people with MSUD can lead relatively normal lives. Mutations in several genes can cause MSUD. Type 1B is caused by mutations in the BCKDHB gene and is inherited in a recessive manner, meaning that only a child who receives two mutated copies of the BCKDHB gene (one from each parent) will get the disease. Although anyone can be a carrier for a mutation that causes MSUD type 1B, mutations causing this disorder are especially common in people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

I don’t have the markers for Maple Syrup Urine Disease Type 1B in case you were concerned.

This final bit made me laugh.

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Yeah, “unlikely sprinter” is spot-on. I’m not running unless I’m being chased and even then, maybe not so much with the running. Maybe more with the accepting of the inevitable death. No running.

2. The other cool thing that happened this week is I got to draw doggies and kitties for work! I got paid to draw animals. SO HAPPY.

stella-chewys-dog2-lowres stella-chewys-cat1-lowres stella-chewys-dog1-lowres

Slacky Slackerton.

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

I would love to say that I haven’t blogged in forever because my life has been SO EXCITING that I simply haven’t gotten a chance, but that would be a lie. It’s just been a lot of nothing particularly interesting happening combined with a heaping pile of work. But I’m back! Let’s look at a picture of disgusting Pringles I would not eat!

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What the eff, Pringles?? The two on the outside maybe, but peppermint? No.

To cleanse your palate, here’s Teddy the Porcupine eating a teeny pumpkin. Make sure your sound is on.

http://cuteoverload.com/2013/10/29/this-just-in-teddy-bear-power-noms-punkin/

And finally, this amusing screenshot I saw someplace on the web.

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Self-control. I do not haz it.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

I like green, specifically light yellow-green, the color of the first buds of spring. I also like a variety of blues and purples and browns, therefore I tend to use those colors pretty exclusively in my work. It’s as natural as picking up a pen in your primary hand. Occasionally, however, I like to stretch muscles creatively that I don’t often use, and that can mean using colors that you’re not naturally attracted to. I’ve never used rocaille beads because I thought they were a bit flashy (they are glass beads that are lined in the hole with shiny metal) and I almost never use yellow, orange and red. Snorth likes orange, and I like Snorth, so I decided hey let’s make something with yellow, orange AND red inspired by her. So when I get home at night I spend about an hour decompressing from my job by watching “Lockup” on MSNBC and beading a lariat. It’s an extremely repetitive stitch so I don’t have to think too hard and it’s a good way to prepare myself for that night’s sleepytimes. The point of me telling you all this is I have no idea how to end the bottoms of this lariat. I want to end it with a fancy flourish of some kind. I’ve done that for this one:

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And this one:

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I mean, you can just stop beading, tie it off, and that’s the end. That’s totally an option if that’s what you’d like, but I like it to look like I didn’t just run out of beads. I want the bottom to look intentional. So I went on Etsy with the intention of buying two lampworked glass beads. Two. You hear me? Just two. Two beads.

Here’s what I bought:

beads

Yeah. Hence the title of this blog entry. And note that in the picture it’s just pairs of beads, but the first one is six beads, then seven beads, then two, then seven, then two. I’m no mathematician, but that’s not just two beads. We’ll see which one of those works best for my project.

Stuff n’ things.

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

1. There’s a British website called Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs. While the photos are indeed extremely terrible, the comments are great.
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2. Et tu, Animal Planet? I understand The History Channel going over to the dark side for the sake of ratings (I mean, how much Hitler footage can you show in a day?), but animals are forever interesting. There’s no need to bring fake made-up animals into this. No Bigfoot and no mermaids. Stop it.

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3. There is a TV show in England called “Quite Interesting,” and they put out a list of Animated Animal Facts. They are the greatest. And they are illustrated by a very talented man, Mr. Whaite. Some of my favorites:

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And he did a great movie poster in neon:

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Two artists that are magnificent and humbling.

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

I was perusing a bunch of websites as I do every day or so and I saw these weird little stegosaurus-monsters with barnacles all over them made of clay.

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I was intrigued so I clicked and lo, a world of magic and wonder was revealed to me. Meet Slava Leontyev and Anya Stasenko. They’re Russian and they’re AMAZING. Here’s what they do.

First, Slava creates an animal. He has a ton of molds he’s made and he takes this tail and this eye and these horns and he brings it all together, smoothing and melding the elements together. The creatures are absolutely delightful and if Slava stopped there, it would be fine.

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But then more stuff happens. Anya is an illustrator that reminds me of the British illustrator Arthur Rackham. This is one of her drawings.

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Anya draws right onto the clay, and then paints over it with what appears to be black glaze. Then I imagine it is fired, sealing the black glaze to the porcelain.

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And then Anya paints with color. She is amazing. I can’t even with the beautifulness.

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Are you seeing this??? ARE YOU???

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Ohmygod. Much to my sadness, they make the pieces to order as requested by clients and I can’t commit to any one beastie or style or motif. I WANT ALL THE THINGS. When I finally get my act together, I will pick a design and get something made. In the meantime, I friended them on Facebook (I recommend you do as well) and watch their creations with a mixture of envy and desire.

If you want to commission a work of art, here’s their website. It’s in Russian but Google will translate it for you.

http://farfora.com/

artists

Happy happy charts on this grim day.

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The sky was black at 4:00 in the afternoon today and there are tornado warnings all over NYC, so instead of saving your battery in case the power goes out and you need to call for help I recommend looking at these charts instead. 911 be damned, charts take priority!

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The Big E.

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

The last few years in the later part of September I would trek off to Pennsylvania to go to The Bloomsburg Fair. You can read about it here and here. This year, however, I decided to shake things up a bit and I went with my parents to The Big E which is like a state fair on steroids (at least for this area, apparently the Minnesota and Iowa State Fairs are CRAY) and it was delightful. It’s a fair for all the states that comprise New England – Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. I went for two words. Butter. Sculpture.

Let’s take it from the top.

Here was the sign at the entrance. It disappoints me that the sign says “animals,” and then it says “reptiles.” Like reptiles aren’t animals. I bet there are more than a few iguanas who would take offense at that. I am warm-blooded and I took offense on their behalf.

sign

The first thing we saw was the sheep-judging and we arrived at the pinnacle of cuteness. There were three little kids in the ring with their sheep, and the kids were wearing wool items to reinforce their love of sheep and sheepy products. There was a nine-year-old girl, a seven-year-old girl, and this sweetie-pants of a six-year-old boy whose sheep would not stand still. The little boy was so calm while this animal that was easily one and a half times bigger than him circled around him. My heart, it melted from the precious.

small-boy-with-sheep

It was common for people showing off their prize-winning animals to dress up as something pertinent to the animal’s breed or place of origin. This woman was showing off her ram while holding skis. The ram had a wool sweater around his neck which I thought was very meta.

ram-with-costumes

I got to check out some sheep in protective outfits that made them look like knights from the Round Table. The hoodies kept their wool from getting matted or hooked on things.

sheep-knight1

There were also a ton of cattle. This Holstein mooed in my face. I loved it. It was a low sound and it reverberated in my breastbone. AND his breath smelled like grass and hay. A win-win all around. I asked him to moo in my face again, but he was over it. Bovine diva.

holstein-cow

The 4-H program is all over the world, but this is one of the only places in the country where 4-H kids could show yoked oxen. We watched the youngins show off their yoked oxen and it amused me that all they had in their hand was a long stick. Years and years of agricultural advances and the best tool to control two very large animals continues to be… a long stick. My favorite oxen was the pair of splotchy Jackson Pollock ones.

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After hanging out with the livestock for a while we went to the Farm-A-Rama.

farm-a-rama

Where we saw a mommy alpaca with a baby alpaca. Awwwww.

alpacas

And chicks being born! Which I could not take any photos of because of the crowd around it. I could only see by hopping around the perimeter. Luckily I went on Google and found someone else’s picture of it. This is from WeAreNotMartha.com.

Big-E-Chick-Hatchery

Those poor little chickies worked so hard to get out of those shells! Many of them got out and were so tired they just took a nap for ten minutes. Then they dried off and made peeping noises and ambled around a bit with those perpetu-grumples expressions chickens always have.

There was a singing vegetable show. Has everyone here been to Stew Leonard’s? Whatever company builds those animatronic anthropomorphic singing farm animals also does animatronic anthropomorphic singing vegetables, which is good to know. People were sitting there watching this like it was an Tony-award-winning play.

singing-vegetables

In Farm-A-Rama there was a contest for the best painted pumpkins:

painted-pumpkins

And award-winning gourds that were not painted:

awardwinning-gourds

And morbidly obese pumpkins that looked like they consumed a couch:

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And a mentally-challenged llama (also known as “a llama”) with some serious janky lower teeth. The Moomins petted it.

moomins-and-llama

The best thing in the Farm-A-Rama was when my mother saw some Clydesdale horses and said, “Oh, they must be standing on a platform.”

clydesdale-wagon

And I got to take her around the side and see them up close so she would understand that no, they are not standing on a platform. She was blown away. Clydesdales are ridiculously huge. Like you expect Thor to show up and ride one and maybe flames to shoot out its nostrils and sparks to shoot from its hooves. Seriously, they are big. The man in the picture below was a solid 6’4″ tall to give you a sense of scale.

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They told us that the Clydesdales were being hitched up to participate in a fair near the Avenue of States, so we made a point to head over there.

After I left the Farm-A-Rama Pavilion I encountered my raison d’etre for this whole trip.

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BUTTER SCULPTURE. It was in a horse-trailer-sized refrigerated case and it was a table covered with milk products. There was also a big butter cow in there, but it didn’t really look that impressive. The table laden with various lactobjects was the real eye-catcher.

We finally made it over to the Avenue of States. Remember, this fair is for all the states included in New England, so each one had its own building with its own food and crafts within. This was Rhode Island’s building.

rhode-island

And this was Massachusetts. Way to rock the symbols of the British monarchy, Massachusetts!

massachusetts

Here’s a shot of the rest of the street. You can see the rest of the buildings with their spires.

street-of-states

Then the parade started! So exciting! I love parades so much. Any activity where I can sit completely still (I am layzeeee) and cool things go past me, I love. So that includes parades and fireworks. Love ’em. There were a bunch of different marching bands, some in regular band outfits and some in patriot American period garb.

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There was some cars with important people in them that I could not identify, probably local government officials and famous sports people. I waved and clapped anyway. Just because I’m ignorant doesn’t mean I have to be rude. They waved, I waved back.

One things that made me laugh was a large truck sponsored by both a fence-building company and a gymnastics school for girls. The truck had a large complex wooden fence built around the perimeter and it was full of pretty young tween girls with fancy bows in their hair, none of whom seemed particularly thrilled to be there. The problem is it totally looked like they were sub-par gymnasts are were being sent to slaughter at the stockyard. It was like a disturbing warning. “Practice your tumbles, Missy! You don’t want to end up on the Crappy Cartwheel Surplus Girl Truck, do you? DO YOU???” Unfortunately the truck was going pretty fast and I was laughing so I didn’t get a picture of it, but just imagine tightly packed surliness rolling by.

Then there were the various states as represented by the 4-H members, and each state had… a teeny horse! They were so wee and cute! Most of them looked like smaller versions of regular horses:

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But one of them appeared to have dwarf genes. I called it the Peter Dinklage of Horses.

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Followed by gigantor horses! It was a day of equine extremes!

clydedale-parade

And then Mardi Gras floats. They seemed out of place. I loved them, but there was an elephant and a volcano and some African shields and a Venetian mask. Totally appropriate for New Orleans Fat Tuesday, oddly chosen for Western Massachusetts. The ‘Murkin float was the only one that fit in.

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After the parade I realized I had been walking around for five hours and that was enough, so we headed out. It was wonderful. I saw everything I wanted and more. Some other bits and pieces:

The Oingle Peninsula. That’s a place. Oingle.

oingle-peninsula

There was some lovely award-winning thread and yarn work. Snorth! You seeing this? I thought of you while I looked at all the fiber-crafts.

needlepoint

And finally, I paid a nice man ten dollars to led The Moomins hold a tiny warm baby pig. It was precious. According to The Moomins, it was “tender and warm and a bit bristly.” She was smitten.

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Addendum: We stopped at a gas station. This man was parked there. I had questions which I chose to keep to myself.

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