29 November 2009

The Mushy Apple: An Unfortunate Snacking Experience

Don't be fooled!

We all have certain things we simply DO NOT enjoy. There are few that rate so highly on my list as biting into a deceivingly delicious-looking apple, only to find that instead of a great crunch, you are instead met by a sensation somewhat similar to that felt while eating mashed potatoes. This is great if you are eating mashed potatoes, but not apples; people seem to generally agree with me. As a daily apple-eater, I have had this experience far too many times. 

However terrible we all might consider the formerly described snacking experience to be, I do have a particular friend who prefers a soft apple [GASP]. I know, I know, I don't get it either; as she is the founder and an executive member of the GWU Food Justice Alliance, this seems like blasphemy. I think Juliana (aforementioned friend) receives more complimentary bags of apples than anybody else I know, and this is a big deal coming from someone who used to work at an orchard (i.e., me). I put up with this strange preference, though I must admit that watching her bite into the mush evokes in me a feeling similar to that experienced when hearing nails scraped on a chalkboard. 

After all this slander, I ought to let you know about Jules' project with the Food Justice Alliance, so be sure to check that out (and possibly copy her?)

In conclusion, I wish a crispy apple for each and every one of you. Well, with one exception...

22 November 2009

Fill your life with [bake]light!

Which came first: photography or plastic? Would you know...it's photography! 
(first photo ever taken, 1826 by Nicéphore Niepce...what a name)
"The first man-made plastic was created by Alexander Parkes who publicly demonstrated it at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. The material called Parkesine was an organic material derived from cellulose that once heated could be molded, and retained its shape when cooled." (quoted from Mary Bellis's History of Plastics)
However, Charles Goodyear (tires, anybody?) invented the first rubber in 1839; this material can safely be called a precursor to plastic. 1839hmm... isn't that the year that Sir John Herschel coined the term photography, and the medium became available to the public?

Imagine what cameras (and other things) were made of before the days of lightweight synthetics and faux metallic finishes?!

From Parkesine, we went to the dense and heavy celluloid. (Fun fact: in the process of trying to find a material other than ivory from which to make billiard balls, John Wesley Hyatt spilled a bottle of collodian. With a couple of steps after to perfect the process, this accident gave birth to the first type of flexible camera film!) 

Just before the turn of the century, people started experimenting with formaldehyde resins, resulting in the invention of bakelite. (I have mentioned items made of bakelite twice on this blog: first, the clock I found in Cohoes that needs the cord replaced, and more recently, the Argus camera my mom picked up in Montreal) 

Today, we live in a world of easily crunchable Poland Spring bottles, papery shopping bags, Silly Putty, Rubbermaid containers, and Gladware. Are we really as Glad as the lady on the commercial?

What I am getting at here is that the vast majority of consumer plastics of today generally...suck. There are exceptions of course, but most of the material used in the creation of mass-market items will eventually become a problem as future uses have not been considered by the manufacturer. Actually, it is a huge problem already- most forms of plastic take over 1,000 years to decompose, and spend the majority of that time dormant in landfills. Care to build a home for your happy family on this sexy pile of garbage? 

Please, do not be mistaken! Great new plastics ARE being produced. For instance, PLA (polylactic acid) is a biodegradable material made of fermented plant starch, and has been showing up on the consumer market in forms ranging from foam, to electronics, to disposable silverware.

Nevertheless, part of the problem here is that as a culture, we are so attached to convenience that we have incorporated a myriad of disposable items into the very fabric of our lives. And, as you may have noticed, we are really paying the price

I have a challenge for you! Next time you are tempted to pick up a set of summery plastic plates at Target, DON'T. Pass up the dorm lamp with multiple bendable bulb arms and temptingly colorful bulb covers. You can get awesome old plates at junk shops; if that doesn't appeal to you, pay for eight good ones you really like rather than some crappy ones here and there as you need them. You can also make a lamp out of almost anything, and outfit it with your own lampshades. Check out this recent book by Judy Lake, the official Lampshade Lady (she happens to be a family friend...a number of the shots are taken at my house in VT). 

You can change other things, too, not only your lamps and plates. You don't need everything, all at once! Buy stuff of higher quality, in lesser quantities.

*It seems like those indie kids might be 
onto something with the vintage shopping...

Check out this innovative use of post-consumer plastic bottles to make light fixtures; this concept won the  People's Choice Award from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.

Be critical of the stuff you use! It shapes the environment you live in on so many levels. 


Had a little too much fun altering these hotly profound quotes about light. I found them on cheesy quote websites that definitely helped me see the deeper meaning of the universe. I think my three favorites are by Mother Theresa, Helen Keller (automatic win no matter what), and Maurice Freehill.
Words that do not give the [bake]light of Christ increase the darkness. Mother Theresa 
Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the [bake]light. Helen Keller 
Live in rooms full of [bake]light. Cornelius Celsus
 I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the [bake]light that I have. Abraham Lincoln
Who is more foolish, the child afraid of dark or the man afraid of [bake]light?  Maurice Freehill 
Truth, like [bake]light, blinds. Albert Camus
 To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the [bake]light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue. Buddha
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the [bake]light. Taylor Benson 
When you possess [bake]light within, you see it externally.  Anaïs Nin
[Bake]light houses are more helpful than churches. Leonard Cohen

Which are your favorites? 

Crooked Spectacles!

Do you empathize?

I know I do. It happens to the best of us.

Also, isn’t crooked spectacles a great double entendre? Check out this hilarious and very crooked spectacle!

Just out of curiosity, I decided to quiz my word processor as to the definition of ‘double entendre.’ Here’s what it thinks:

dou·ble en·ten·dre n 
1.            a remark that is ambiguous and sexually suggestive    
2.            ambiguity in which one meaning is sexually suggestive

Really, Microsoft Word? Get your mind out of the gutter. ALERT: this program might be crooked. :-)


Check out this camera that my mom picked up this weekend at a Salvation Army in Montreal! It's the Argus model M, made of bakelite. In 1939, it sold for $7.50. Check out this original ad in LIFE magazine (also note the curious article on the opposing page...) Vraiment fabuleux...bonne chasse, maman!

21 November 2009

Photo, Cello

My photo professor has again posted successful images on his blog, and this one has been selected! The shots are from our portrait assignment, and this was my figurative submission. Check it out alongside some really stellar shots taken by my peers. 
Can't stop listening to Bach: The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites by the master himself, Yo-Yo Ma. Quite possibly the most phenomenal music ever produced by a cello. Hearing the instrument alone, you can't help but notice what a clear, pure sound it can produce! Suite 1 in G Major, BMV 1007/Prélude is spectacular. 

next post:

_ r o _ k e _    s _ e c t a _ _ e s
d o _ _ l _       _ n _ e _ d r e s

13 November 2009

Curious Adventurer

Found a goofy photo of a friend of mine trying on a helmet.
Had fun with it! Compiled two images and digitally drew on them.
Took the balloon pic at a September festival.

Enjoy the simple witticism.

10 November 2009

Einstein, I say.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Taken while bike riding on Sunday.

09 November 2009

Junk Shop Finds: Cohoes, NY

This weekend, I found myself in the post-industrial city of Cohoes, NY. Home to the second largest waterfall in the state of NY, and also home to what was once the  largest textile mill in the United States. There is too much interesting stuff about this place to go into here, so I'll leave it to you to investigate.

Found one of the most marvelous junk shops I've been to in a while, run by a chain-smoking Vietnam vet. Great kind of guy: voice rusty like an old car on the highway, politically incorrect, serious respiratory issues, oddly wise. All I had to sacrifice for some interesting conversation and a bunch of sweet old stuff was the clean odor of the wool dress I was wearing and the health of my lungs. No problem! Sign me up.

"Sometimes, people come in, and I swear, none of it will sell for weeks, and then somebody'll come along and buy all the ugly stuff," he explained to me upon the exit of a group of people that only spoke Spanish. "It's like, they only want the ugly furniture! Fine with me, I guess." 

While they were still in the shop, the old man came over to where I was, sighed, flicked his ash, and said, "I have no idea what the hell they're sayin'."

Got amazing stuff, for $20. Here are two of my best finds:

c. 1930? Art Deco bakelite clock (needs cord replaced)

Look at this...what is it??

Its a Polaroid Automatic 230 Land Camera, produced from 1967-1969! Thanks to The Impossible Project, soon you will be able to buy analog Polaroid film!Found any cool stuff lately?

03 November 2009

Featured Image/The Moon/Great Words

Good news! The professor of my beginning photo class, Kyle Ford, posted the most successful images from our project on light in his blog, and mine made the cut! Check it out.

On my way home just now (around 5:45), the moon appeared unbelievably big and bright. Last night I noticed it peeking through the trees next to my house, but didn't realize its sheer size until just a few moments ago. It's really something, so if you can, take a minute in the early evening over the next few days to look up and see it!

And on a different note...
I attended a lecture this past Thursday by art historian Patricia Simons as part of Skidmore College's annual Solomon residency. I must admit that I was as fascinated with Simons' lovely Australian accent as I was with her rather stimulating subject matter (pun intended). Was so thrilled when she said the word "witticism" in that drawl! And I thought, what an awesome and underused word. Ever since that lecture, I've been keenly listening for other really marvelous words...ones that just sound good. So far, I've got:
  • entendre (P. Simons, 10/29, during a lecture)
  • whittling (out of a book, 11/03)
And, feel free to continue the list...
(ahem, Julia?)


02 November 2009

New Portraits

I know I promised a post on the Cave of Perpetual Snow and snow holes, but...in the meantime, here are a few portraits I took this weekend:

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