Saturday, December 18, 2010

God Bless Us, Everyone!

As I was sitting here making Christmas presents and baking Christmas goodies, I stumbled upon this video.  I've always been a fan of Ed Hermann - he seems like such a sweet guy!  And his performance here is just amazing!  So I thought I'd share it with you.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

In defense of what I do

Next Wednesday is a rather big day for me - I will be having my first defense for my graduate thesis.  Sleep is being lost, face is breaking out, brain is threatening to malfunction completely...  But it definitely is making me stop and think - why am I doing what I am doing?

Over the years I've had a lot of people give me a funny Look when I say that I'm getting a degree in art.  Even when I got my bachelors in Art Education (and figured the teaching certificate made me so much more legitimate!) I felt like people were thinking, "Yeah, she's never gonna get a job."  I know, because I was one of them.  Then, miracle of miracles, I got a teaching job the week I graduated (in December, no less!).  It wasn't ideal, but it was a job and kept me in practice.

The one downfall of my teaching job was that it left me with little time and even less energy to work on my own artwork.  When I reached a breaking point at that job, I decided that it was time to go back to school.  Fast forward to today and me preparing to defend my choices to a panel of professors here at Kendall.  40 minutes of me telling them why I do what I do, but more specifically:
-Why do I paint the subject matter I do?
-What is the concept behind my work?
-Why still life (using history of genre)?
-Why this particular size paintings?
-Why this particular type of paper?  (Why paper and not watercolor board?)
-Why watercolor (using history/development of medium, which artists used it/made it popular, etc)?
-What artists/art periods have influenced me and why?

And on and on.  I talk, they ask questions, they send me out of the room and deliberate, then call me back in and tell me whether or not I pass.  If they pass me on, I'm good to go and can finish up my degree. If not...well, thankfully not many people don't pass, so I don't really know what would happen then!

As I lay in bed last night I thought, "Holy crud!!  I'm getting my masters in painting!!!  How did that happen?!"  I mean, painting, of all things.  Sometimes even I can't believe it, so if you're surprised by it, you're not alone.  What it comes down to, though, is that I love to paint (specifically with watercolors).  I also love that I can teach others how to paint (and draw).  I may be poor, but at least I'm doing something I enjoy.  Maybe next Wednesday I'll start with that!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Artist's Corner: Pom Poms

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to jump into a pool filled with pom poms?  A shallow pool, of course, but full to the brim of small, soft pom poms...  That (very strange, I know) idea popped into my head today as I was putting some supplies together for a youth class taught at Kendall, and had to take some pom poms out of their original bag and put them into smaller baggies.  When I stuck my hand into that big bag of pom poms, magical things happened.

My hand in the magical bag of pom poms

OK, maybe not really magical, but the pom poms were so soft, it made me feel rather relaxed!  I might keep this in mind as a stress reliever.  I've heard that petting animals is supposed to release tension, but as I'm allergic to many of our fur-covered friends, I may keep around a bag of pom poms as a soft and fuzzy alternative.  

On to the art project!

As it's the day before Thanksgiving, and there's not much going on here at the office, I was inspired by the pom poms to do an art project. Specifically an elementary-school type art project.  (Don't worry, I'll have much more advanced stuff on here, too.  This is just a fun and simple warm-up!)

After looking at some images of turkeys online (to get some ideas for colors, etc) I chose some pom poms that would best suit my needs.  I used some no-drip washable school glue gel, and got crafting!  I was lacking any googly eyes, but found some fabric puff paint for the detail work.  Here is the finished product:

Isn't he adorable? I think I'll name him Chanticleer*
While I realize that this is not the most amazing project ever, it got me thinking about the fact that it can be really easy to jump into art.  Just find whatever you have around your home, lay your supplies out, and think about what you could make.  It'll make you feel like a kid again!  And it's certain to cheer you up.  

Happy Crafting, and Happy Thanksgiving!  




*I realize this is usually thought of in relation to roosters (because of the fables), but it actually is from the French for "to sing clear," which clearly, turkeys do.  ;) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hey, in the Elevator!

Why are elevators SO awkward?  I work on the 7th floor at school, and some days the stairs just aren't going to happen.  I'm all for exercise, but rather against huffing and puffing into work...

Yesterday, a woman and I got on the elevator on the 7th floor at the same time, and proceeded to stand in opposite corners and not speak.  A few floors down, a guy got on, and decided that the best place to stand would be right between the woman and I, though there wasn't much room.  So there we were, three strangers standing against the back of the elevator in a tight row, not speaking, and staring at the floor numbers as we descended.

It just felt weird.  Should I strike up a conversation?  Or would that be more awkward?  I think it's funny how elevator co-travelers often avoid eye contact and act like they're not standing just inches from another human being.  What if we got stuck in the elevator together?  These perfect strangers would suddenly be my closest friends.  I feel like a lot of social experiments could be done in and about elevators.  I think I may stick with the stairs.

The elevator experience did remind of one of my favorite Animaniacs cartoons of all time, which I thought I'd share with you:



For another elevator cartoon from the '90s, check out this one, featuring Baby Plucky.  A little more annoying, but classic! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reinventing the Blog

Hi, readers!

Have any of you ever hit a point in your life where you wake up and realize that each day it's the same - day in and day out, you just do? You're not really living, you're just existing? I sort of hit that point recently, and it was a (many) grim day(s).

A friend of mine once told me that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Wait, if I don't exercise, I don't get in shape? If I stay up late every night, I'll be tired at work/school? OK, yes, these seem like no-brainers. Of course your pants still won't fit after weeks of consecutively not working out, no matter how good your (OK, my) intentions are.

I've heard that making small changes in your life (routine) can be all it takes to break you out of the hum-drummity* of everyday life. Take a different route on your way to work or school; wear that hat you bought on a whim but haven't dared yet to wear; rearrange the furniture in one of your rooms; write a blog post...

So here I am, having rearranged my bedroom furniture late last night and blogging again! I've thought about feng shui-ing my bedroom in the past, but the mood finally really hit me last night. It might not seem like that big a deal, but I'm surprised at how my mood has changed today! I woke up smiling at the new arrangement, and have thought about it often throughout the day. Even now, I'm wondering why I'm sitting on my couch blogging when I could be in my new and improved bedroom! Wait, what are laptops for, if not...

Much better. The nice thing, as I look around my bedroom, is that this change cost me no money! Same stuff, same room even, but new furniture locations. And I feel refreshed!

When I turned #% a couple of months ago, I was nervous but excited for this new time of my life. I'll admit I let that excitement fade out a little, but like a good movie soundtrack, it's fading back in and I think the reprise will be so much better! (Did I really just write that sentence?) With that excitement, I hope to keep up better with my blog. I was thinking about maybe having a regular post called something along the lines of "The Artist's Corner" where I share little tips and tricks to bring art into your life. As an artist, crafter, and art teacher, I have lots to share!

For example:
- how to get started with watercolor (my specialty!)
- how to do a simple batik (fabric dying)
- how to mat (and frame!) a photograph (or painting)
- how to wrap the perfect present (Hallmark-trained!)
- how to interpret famous works of art (that may sound boring to some, but I promise I'd make it way interesting and try to keep it brief!) ;)
- how to draw objects realistically
- how to validate your career as an artist
- ...and so much more!

So I hope you'll keep coming back! If need be, that can be the different thing you do that day... ;)

*I claim this word on behalf of the New English Dictionary.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shells Have Never Been So Cute.


I don't know why I'm so drawn to this video, but I think it's hilarious! Maybe because it's so simple, really. Reminds me of the Teeny Little Super Guy from Sesame Street! I loved that guy when I was a kid. Enjoy the video, and tell me what you think!

"Guess what I use as a beanbag chair? A raisin."

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Didn't Act Like A Total Fool!

Have you ever wondered how you'd act (or react) if you met a celebrity? Not just any celebrity, of course. If Lindsay Lohan walked by me right now I'd probably duck and cover. No, I'm talking about someone you admire, maybe are a member of their fan club, have seen every TV show/movie they've been in or read every book they've written, etc. I've always suspected that, try as I may to maintain the Three Cs*, I would fall apart and become a blubbering idiot the moment I came within 10 feet. Maybe 50 feet.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet someone I admire greatly, and whose show I LOVE - Chef Duff!! If you don't know who he is, Chef Duff Goldman is the host/star/driving force behind the Food Network show, "Ace of Cakes." He has one of the most infectious laughs ever, and really is one of the most huggable-looking guys out there. Plus, well, he makes AMAZING CAKES!

Duff came to Grand Rapids this week to help out with a fundraiser for Hospice of Michigan's 30th birthday. The event & cake unveiling is tonight, but last night he signed copies of the book Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes at the Schuler Books in downtown Grand Rapids. And I was there!

My friend Rachel and I waited in line for over two hours, but it was worth it! Here's my conversation with Chef Duff: (Note: While we were in line, if we wanted Duff to write our names when he signed our books, they wrote them on a sticky note inside.)

Duff: Are you Katherine?
Me: I am!
Duff: I have a Katherine!
Me: [a little confused...] You do?
Duff: Yeah! On the show!
Me: Oh, yeah!
Duff: Where is she? [Looking at the little cartoons at the bottom of the page of all of the people who work with him at Charm City Cakes - this is when the above picture was taken] There she is! [Draws an arrow up to her] Only we call her K-Money. [writes "K$" under her picture]
Me: Ah, I've been called that before.
Duff: Yeah?! [Laughs...I love his laugh!]
Me: Yep! [Duff hands me book, smiles at me :)] Thank you!!
Duff: No problem!
Compelling drama, right? ;) And I think you'll all be happy to know (I certainly was!) that I maintained the Three Cs with gusto! Now if you'll excuse me, all of this talk about cake is making my stomach growl...


*Cool, Calm, Collected

Friday, August 20, 2010

White Gummy Bears


Yesterday my mom and I went to one of our favorite Ann Arbor restaurants: San Fu (located in the South Main Market). Apart from having delicious Chinese food, the name of the place is really fun to say. (Try it!)

A couple of stores down from San Fu is one of my favorite stores, called By the Pound. At this store, you can buy spices, baking supplies, granola, beans, candy, etc, all - you guessed it - by the pound. I used to go there all the time and buy different kinds of candy that I would stash around my desk for when I needed a little something sweet - Andes Mints, M & Ms, Swedish Fish, gummy bears... The nice thing was that you had a little control over what you got: don't like blue M & Ms? While the clerk's not looking, scoop those ones back out of your bag. Only want red Swedish Fish? Be strategic in your scooping and just grab the red ones!

For me, it's the white gummy bears. I pretty much like all flavors of gummy bears (but not all brands - some are too chewy or too tough), but the white ones, which I believe are pineapple flavored, are my favorite! It's like strawberry flavored Starburst - I love to save those ones for last! Or else I'm careful to eat them at strategic intervals in between the other flavors.

Yesterday I did my best scoop work, and got as many white gummy bears as I could. Mmm, it's been a delicious day, eating those yummy little bears! It's also reminded me of how I used to love to eat off the heads and switch around the gummy bodies... I thought maybe I was weird, then remembered a tutorial I read last year - it's not just me! (Click here for the tutorial - it's quite hilarious!)

Do you have any favorite candy flavors or candy traditions? Did you grow up eating Pop Rocks or red Razzles or only the brown Reese's Pieces? Do you also call flavors by the color? My mom always tells me how silly she felt going to Dairy Queen when we were kids and ordering red, purple, or green popsicles. The employees would look at her funny and say, "You mean, cherry, grape, and lime?"

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a white gummy bear with a red head and one green arm waiting to be eaten. Mmmm...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garage Salin' It Up

My sister Heather and I are sitting in the garage right now, waiting for prospective buyers at our garage sale. I have to say, I've never had much success selling at garage sales. My sister is making bank ("bank" being more than $20!!), but I've sold nada. Now, granted I have 3 things for sale, but still.

While sitting out here, however, I have made efforts at earning money a different way: I've set up an Etsy shop! For those of you who've never heard of it, Etsy is a website where people can "set up shop" and sell hand-made wares. Each person has an individual shop where people can come, browse their product, and buy directly from them. I don't have much up on mine yet, but you can check it out at: www.etsy.com/shop/kathartist.

In other news, I bought these amazing things at someone else's garage sale:
Can you guess what they are? I'll tell you in the comments so I don't ruin the surprise for you. I love a good garage sale find! Have you had any success at garage sales this summer? Do tell!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Left My Life Back in 2005

I was recently reminded of the fact that I haven't blogged in over a month. And really, my last post wasn't much more than a bunch of pictures and instructions on how to make the same thing. In fact, that's all it was. I suppose part of my blogging hiatus has come as a result of a lack of anything interesting to blog about.

When I first started this blog, I meant for it to be sort of a joke - I blogged about the most inane things as if they were terrifically fascinating. (Which is why the tag line in my blog title is so very sarcastic.) Eventually I graduated into writing about things that were actually interesting, and kept at it for a while...until interesting subject matter became more elusive.

Then, a few days ago, I had a run-in with a fly. Oooh, it was a tricky bugger (no pun intended) (well, maybe a little pun intended), and it kept sneaking under the door of my room after I'd chased it out! I spent quite a bit of time chasing that stupid thing around my room with the best weapon I could find - a sombrero (which won out in the end, I'll have you know).

As I was battling the miniature beast, I thought to myself, I should blog about this. I even took a couple of pictures and had the name of the post picked out: Woman vs Fly: the Epic Battle of 2010. Then it hit me: I already wrote this post back in 2008, only then I was only joking about it! And now...now this really is the most interesting thing that has happened to me?! THIS is what I'm thinking about writing about in my blog?! Sigh.

In contrast, a month or so ago I came across an old journal of mine from the year 2005, and as I read through it, I marveled at the incredible life I led back then! I mean, I had a LIFE back then!! I was constantly hanging out with friends, I actually dated, there was drama right and left. And the good kind of drama! The stuff blogs are made of! What happened to me? It's no wonder I go so long between posts.

Over the last year or so, I've thought about reinventing my blog, making it more about art, etc, but I think that my website (coming soon to a web server near you!) will serve that purpose. So after careful consideration, here's what I've concluded:

1. I have no (or very little) life.
2. What life I have you probably wouldn't care to read about.
3. I like to be sarcastic.

The result of these conclusions is this: you might be reading more about epic battles with flies and people stealing my chocolate chips, but I'll do my best to make it entertaining. Perhaps I'll fool you and I both that my life is more fascinating that it actually is. For now, here's a picture that I took of some clouds. Enjoy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Autobiographical Mosaics

My friend Jessica posted this idea on her blog recently where you answer some questions, find some images, and put them together as a mosaic. A fun idea and awful purdy! Let me know if you do one, too!


Directions
- Go to Google image search and do be careful.
- Type in your answer to each question.
- Choose a picture from the first three pages
- Use this website (http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/mosaic.php) to make your collage.

QUESTIONS:
1. What is your name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What is your hometown?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. What is your favorite movie?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What is one word to describe yourself?
10. How are you feeling right now?
11. What do you love most in the world?
12. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When Bike Riding Doesn't Make You Fall Over

On Monday I ventured out on my bike for the first time since the Incident. I was a little nervous! But, thanks to the generosity of my mom, I was able to fill my tires using my new bike pump (low tires being part of the problem from before). I was really nervous coming up that hill, but then, amazingly, I made it! And not only did I make it up the hill without falling over, I felt good enough to just keep riding!

I rode around for about twenty minutes, and took a lot of pictures of the beautiful neighborhoods around me. I was such a perfect evening to ride! It was nice and cool and it smelled like summer, as well as like Maine, Thailand, and my hometown. Isn't it strange how smells can transport you somewhere? I was instantly in those places as I rode through the streets of Grand Rapids.

OK, enough gabbing. Here are some photos for you to enjoy!


A beautiful Grand Rapids street

I'm pretty sure a witch lives here.

I accidentally took a picture while I was riding!


The Meyer May House, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright! (Very cool inside - I've taken the tour, which is free!)


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Wanna Live Where the Green Grass Grows

What is it about green grass that makes me so happy? I just want to lay down in it, maybe roll around, squish my toes in it, run my fingers through it... Sigh! When everything first started getting all green a few weeks ago, I was walking by the library and bent down and let my fingers run through the grass as I walked by. I love it! (I wondered afterwards if anyone saw me and thought I was crazy...odds are I didn't know them anyway, so oh, well!) I find myself wanting to run around barefoot in every freshly mown lawn I come across so I can feel the grass between my toes! Is it just me, or does anybody else love grass this much? I'm OK if it's just me. But if you love it, too, let's go find some green grass to run in!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Descent Into Ridiculousness

It’s been a while since I’ve done much blogging, but now that my semester is over, I thought I’d try to ease back into things with a slightly embarrassing (but funny!) story.

About a month ago, when the weather started getting warm, I decided to start riding my bike to school again. The first rides of the season are always the toughest, but I know that once I get through those first half dozen or so rides my muscles (and other eh-hem…areas…) will stop being so sore and I’ll be able to enjoy the ride more.

I live at the top of one of the higher points in Grand Rapids, which makes for tricky bike riding. My ride to school is generally a pleasant, quick event, as it’s pretty much all downhill and I can coast most of the way, arriving cool and on time to class. The ride home is a different story.

The main problem isn’t the downtown portion of the journey, as that’s mostly level. But once I reach a certain point in my trip home, it’s all uphill – about a half-mile steady incline to my apartment building. I’ve tried several different routes, and last month found what I thought was the best one. It’s a beautiful residential street so there are no stoplights, which means a better build-up of momentum. That also means less traffic, and therefore fewer people to witness my huffing-and-puffing up the hill.

I rode my bike up this hill the first few times and, much to my chagrin, was unable to make it to the top without having to stop about halfway and walk my bike the rest of the journey. The third or fourth time as I was pedaling up the incline, I decided that, no matter what, I would ride to the top of the hill. I may have been crawling up the street (ants were speeding by me), but I made it! I got to the top of the hill (where the street I was on dead-ends into another road), and stopped by a lovely yellow house to catch my breath.

What happened next was ridiculous. I'm not sure why exactly it happened, either! All I know is that one second I was standing in exhausted triumph, the next second my bike was falling (towards the sidewalk, not the street, thank goodness), and I soon followed. I mean, I was stopped, standing there, and my bike fell! I couldn't stop it! I sort of laughed as I went down, catching myself before falling rather ungracefully with my bike. I got up quickly, righted my bike, and walked across the street to a beautiful grassy hill where I could catch my breath and laugh at myself.

I have no idea if anyone witnessed my graceful descent, but I honestly wish someone would have! I must have looked ridiculous!! I also wish someone would have videotaped me - I laugh about it just seeing it in my head - it would be hilarious to watch it over and over again!

On a side note, the next time I went out on my bike I discovered part of the reason for the difficult bike rides: my tires were half-flat! Yeesh. Next time, I'm checking that first!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yes, Yes, I'm a Nerd


When I was in middle school, a motivational speaker came to our school and talked to us about being a Nerd. Granted, not your typical idea of a motivational speaker, but I think the idea behind this was that we were being taught to embrace our individuality and not to be afraid of being different. The speaker wore two different colored high-top Chucks and had a motto that has stuck with me through the ensuing decade and a half: “Nerds Rule!”

I remember asking my mom if we could go back for the assembly (discussion?) he was going to do in the evening that was open to the public, and she obliged. Finally, at last, here was someone who was validating my existence! I was a Nerd, and that was OK! Nerds Rule! I even got a button, which was square and had a cartoon drawing of his feet with the two different colored Chucks and the motto scrawled across it in bold lettering. I believe that button maintained a proud position on my backpack for quite some time after.

It’s been a few years now since that motivational speaker first reassured my awkward, middle school self that being a Nerd was OK, and the button is long gone. But the message has stuck with me. Nerds Rule, and there’s no sense hiding my inherent Nerdiness from the world.

The essence of my Nerdiness has been manifested lately in a very technological way. I am often tempted to quickly hide and erase all evidence of these Nerdy activities, but am reminded of that guy who once reassured me that Nerds were Cool, and to be confident with that fact.

I have learned to accept it, and think you should, too.

I am a Nerd, and I rule.*

I like Farmville, and will post things on my wall, because, darnit, I want to help my Farmville Neighbors out (and get free gifts in return). I may delete some of these posts after the prizes have been claimed, but that does not diminish my love of the game. It is only a way for me to keep up some semblance of a (pretend) non-Nerdy lifestyle. I believe I’ve fooled most people into thinking that I’m not a Nerd, and if I haven’t, I’d like to delude myself for a little longer that I have.

My friend Megan recently introduced me to a hilarious online show called The Guild. The Guild is a group of people who play an online game (it’s supposed to be something along the lines of World of Warcraft and the like) and the Nerdtastic antics they get into. Each episode is around 5 or 6 minutes long, and seriously funny. Hilarious’d.

While the type of game The Guild plays is rather different than Farmville, the sentiment is very similar. Those who play are often found to be discussing how to get more XP, the temptation to break down and pay real money for Farmville Dollars, mastering crops, and sending each other certain free gifts. You may mock, but you have to accept at least one fact: we’re having fun, and part of you thinks your friend’s farm is pretty and kind of wants you to start one yourself.

Give in, friends. We’re Nerds, and proud of it. Come join us!

*I mean this in the humblest way possible, of course.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Please Don't Stop the Covers.

A few days ago I was searching for a ringtone, and hoped to find something by Jamie Cullum, one of my favorite contemporary jazz singers. I was surprised when I kept seeing "Jamie Cullum, Please Don't Stop the Music." I know that song pretty well (it's one of my favorite songs my friend Tiffany sings at karaoke), and it just didn't seem like a song Jamie Cullum would be singing. Turns out, Jamie covers Rihanna really well! In my opinion, that is. Which of these two versions do you prefer?

I'm including 3 versions of the song: Rihanna's original version, Jamie Cullum's cover, and Tiffany's (shortened) karaoke version (at the Dam Site Inn in Hell, Michigan). I hope at the very least these songs make you get up and dance.

Click here for Rihanna's version.

Click here for Jamie Cullum's cover.

Click below to see Tiffany's amazing skills!
video

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Allergic


I sometimes think that maybe my allergy to wool has gone away (like a bad cold?) and wear my beautiful gray scarf. The allergy is still here.

(And yes, that IS James Dean behind me.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Proof.

Not that any of you ever doubted, but here's solid proof that not only were Sarah and I extras in "Whip It" (which came out on DVD on Tuesday), but that was my torso in my previous post. (You can compare the jeans and the boney elbows.) We're stars!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The First of Many Treasure Hunts

Last Saturday promised to be a rather sad day, as I was leaving the fam and the comforts of home to head back to Grand Rapids and school. (Not that G.R. and school are bad, I'd just had a LOT of fun over the break!) I got back to my apartment, unloaded, then decided to go get some groceries before settling in to unpack. When I was leaving the Family Fare, I heard booms in the distance. I had an internal dialogue that went something like this:

"Yikes! I hope no one just got shot. Actually, it sounds like fireworks. Nah, it's January, and not a holiday. Why would there be fireworks? Probably a car backfiring. Or more like a lot of cars backfiring at once. Boy, I hope those bananas ripen up quick. Maybe I'll stop by Taco Bell after all."

When I got in my car and pulled out onto the road, off in the distance I saw them: it was fireworks! I immediately set off to search for the source. I figured that the most logical place for fireworks to go off would be right downtown over the river, so I headed in that direction. I tried to keep the fireworks in sight, and would lose them occasionally behind trees or buildings. I knew I was getting close when I saw people running in the direction of the river.

After a few minutes, I ended up on Pearl Street, stopped in a line of cars on one of the bridges over the Grand River. We were parked very illegally, but no one seemed to care. The fireworks were being set off on a parallel bridge (Michigan Street), so I had a perfect view! I opened up my sun roof, pulled out my camera, and got a few cool videos. It was fun to hear the cheering and see all of the people lined up on the bridge and along the cold river.

I had a silly grin on my face for quite some time after I drove away after the big finale (see video below). I must say, my resolution to find treasure certainly was met in spades! I think my next resolution is going to be to win a million dollars...


video
(A couple of things about the video: It gets cooler about half-way through; I love that the No Parking sign is clearly visible throughout; about 2/3 of the way through, it gets REALLY loud - my car was shaking quite a bit at that point!; I also love to hear the cheering at the end. Enjoy! And Happy January!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Wonders of the Ocean

A few weeks ago I was wandering around the Grand Rapids Public Museum (which I highly recommend - a very interesting museum with really informative and well done displays) and I came across a display about ivory. It was focused on the ways that ivory has been exploited and talked about where ivory comes from. One part showed a narwhal tusk, and I will admit that I was a little baffled that narwhals are actually real! I hate to show my ignorance that I didn't realize the reality of this fantastic creature - I'd seen the one in Elf, but didn't realize it was an actual animal! Once I saw the display at the museum, however, I realized that maybe narwhals weren't just a claymation fantasy.

This discovery led to some serious research (mostly involving the always accurate Wikipedia) about narwhals. They are amazing! (And slightly terrifying - I don't really need yet one more reason to stay out of the ocean...) Apparently male narwhals are the ones with the tusks - the
left of their two front teeth grows out into a spiral and can reach a length of 7-10 feet!! (Their bodies are 13-16 feet long.) The tusk isn't used for fighting or eating, but serves a similar purpose as peacock feathers or a lion's mane (for mating rituals/showing off).

Elizabeth and I were looking at photos of them last night, and I can't get over how insane these guys look! (They are thought to have lead to the legend of the unicorn, too.) I'm amazed at the incredible animals out there as well as how terrible my earth science teacher in high school was. How did I not know about the ocean sunfish or the narwhal? Now I know...and knowing's half the battle. ;)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

There's Treasure Everywhere!

I know you've all been on tenterhooks waiting to find out what my new year's resolution is going to be, so I shan't keep you waiting any (well, much) longer! I've thought about it quite a bit, and mulled a few options over:
- Read more Murder, She Wrote books
- Seriously (like, really seriously, this time) learn how to play the guitar
- Blog every day...or at least every week!
- Solve world hunger
- Join Farmville addicts anonymous

I threw those out (though I'll continue to work towards those goals) and looked at this resolution a different way. My main criterion for this resolution is that it not be mundane - no exercise/diet resolutions or anything like that. When I looked at the definition of a resolution (a firm decision to do or not to do something) vs. goal (the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result), I felt like a resolution was more, well...more resolute. A little more determined than a goal would be. Of course, exercising and eating well are good things to do, but I plan on doing those things (well, should be doing those things) anyway, so why resolve to do them if I already am (will be)?
Last night I was reading a collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics called There's Treasure Everywhere. The very first comic (as seen above) shows Calvin digging for treasure and so excited about the things he's found - worms, a rock, a root, etc. To us, those things might seem insignificant or even gross. But for Calvin, it's real treasure! Calvin's attitude has inspired me and influenced my resolution this year.

Last year my resolution, to have more adventures, took me all over the country. This year, I'm going to continue to be adventurous, but I'm going to look for local "treasures" and work to find treasures in small things every day. This resolution encompasses a few things besides treasure hunts and adventures, specifically being more positive and grateful. I think that all of these things are tied together: if I have a more positive attitude, every day can be an adventure, treasures will be found much more easily, and I'll be more aware and more grateful for all that I have and do. (Awareness is really key here: we can have amazing things going around us but be completely self-absorbed and unaware - I am often guilty of this.)

I know that goals are supposed to be measurable and trackable, which might not seem to apply to my resolution this year (I certainly was able to track my adventures last year; not just my travels, but more local adventures, like watching karaoke semifinals in Hell, going to Frankenmuth twice, being a movie star, etc), but I think there are ways. At the very least, there are ways to break down and achieve this goal.

When I was in high school, I put up a sign by my bed that said: "You have a choice today: you can choose to be happy or you can choose to be grouchy." Most people would probably laugh at that, but I can assure you that, while our moods are often affected by things outside our control we still can control how we react to those things. I remember one morning in particular I awoke and was laying in bed feeling particularly grumpy. When I sat up and read that sign I instantly felt the grouchiness wash away and a peaceful contentedness take its place. I had the choice and I chose to be happy. (If you come by my apartment and find similar signs all over, you are now forewarned that this is merely a way for me to achieve my 2010 resolution.)

So this year, I'm seeking treasure. The treasure will be in the form of further (probably local) adventures, happiness, and gratitude, as well as anything else that comes my way. If you have ideas or suggestions, I'd be happy to hear what you have to say! And if you have any good experiences (either now or things that happen to you this year), please share! I'll try my best to use my blog as a way of tracking this, too, so I can share my treasures with you!

Also, you should probably be expecting me to have a treasure hunt-style birthday party this year - it's a big one for me, so I've gotta do it up right!