Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trading Spaces

So, I haven't blogged here in over a year. I doubt anyone is still checking this space, but in case you are, I'm starting a new blog over yonder. I'm not sure how faithfully it will be updated, but many things in my life have changed over the past year, and I think it's time for a fresh start. Tallyho.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


The semester is aaaalmost over. Our last class is next week, and all we're doing is having a little party and presenting our final projects. W told us last class that he wants to try and keep things 'chill' since we're so close to the end. I think my fellow students probably need it more than I do; I know I've talked a lot about the stress this class has ignited in my belly, but I only had one to worry about. Most of my classmates are finishing up a course load of four or five classes, and everyone was looking peaky and pinched on Wednesday. Part of this may be the weather, too...let's make with the sunshine, please! Actually, it can be rainy and gross this weekend, because I plan on shoving my nose to the grindstone hardcore, getting all my figures done, putting together my project on Monday and Tuesday, and breezing into class on Wednesday well rested, with cups, plates and the final.

The final assignment is really not so intimidating, especially since he had us crank out one of these two weeks ago. A five to seven figure collection, with fabric and mood board. The only extra criterion was that the theme had to be another country or culture, which isn't exactly a restrictive requirement. I picked Lithuania, because it's where my great grandfather (on my dad's side) emigrated from, and I knew absolutely nothing about it. I still know very little about it, but I've discovered that their flag is red, gold and green, the weather is fairly mild, it's on the Baltic Sea, and there's a pretty enchanting castle on an island, called Trakai, that's a major tourist spot. Sooo...that's pretty sufficient for this project, I think.

I went out and got my fabric today (also buttons!) and I've got some good ideas. Ooh, plus, at least one of the designs will feature knitwear, and I swatched my swatch for that tonight. It's actually a design that I was planning on knitting up for myself, out of some of the yarn I scored at MDSW this year. I had doodled a few ideas for it whilst working my amazingly dull job, but I wasn't planning on using it for this project. Then, on Wednesday, we were having our usual "What's going on in the world of fashion" discussion in class. This is usually a pretty awkward endeavor, because W gets frustrated when no one has any news to report, but it seems like everyone in the class is so wrapped up in school that they're not all that jacked in. HOWEVER, this week, I decided to pipe up. It's the end of the semester, right? Anyway, after W and my seatmate A finished talking about the new fashion exhibit at the Met, I said, "Well, I'm not sure this is really all that fashion related, but I went to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last weekend," and bizarrely, W was like, "Oh wow, really? My sister went to that as well! Tell us about it."

So, I talked about the festival, and how it was a really big event in the knitting community, of which I am a part. Since I happened to have the gorgeous Hanami that Elspeth knitted for me, I pulled it out and talked about how two friends and I had all used the same pattern to knit for each other. W was intrigued to hear that knitting patterns exist, and also commented that my Elspeth-made Hanami was beautiful and, "Doesn't look hand-knit at all." (Whatever THAT means.) Then he asked me if I was planning on using hand-knitting in my designs in the future. "Because you should," he said. "Anything in this industry that makes you stand out is a big asset." I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of what he said. It's so funny--knitting is such a big part of my creative self, and I feel so tapped into it (Hello, Ravelry!), that sometimes I forget not all creative people knit, or know much about knitting. Anyway, after he said that to me, I took another look at the little doodles of the garment I had made, and realized that it really would fit well with my other ideas. I'll say nothing more here, except for the word, "YELLOW!"

Once the semester ends, I'll have about three months before the fall semester starts, and I do not intend to be a lazybones over the summer. I just joined The Jukebox pool on Flickr, and I'll probably start working on that once class finishes up. I've also been thinking about getting back into illustrating (I hate the word 'cartooning,' and they're really not the same thing at all.) It's something I really loved doing and I just let it fall by the wayside, but now that I've had this intensive drawing course, I think I could jump back into it. Plus, lots of knitting, of course. Basically, the mantra for this summer is to stay creative, stay productive, and unwind before the fall. Tallyho!

To see pictures of the amazing Hanami that Elspeth knit for me, and an uber cute shot of me, Elspeth and Ann together in our Hanamis, check out Elspeth's Flickr stream, starting HERE

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Project: DEATH is in the details...

Last week, W assigned us a project with virtually identically specs to that of the midterm. The only additional criteria were that the collection had to incorporate shine, and extra care should be taken with the hands. (These were the last two subjects we had covered in class. ) This project really kicked my ass, I gotta tell you. I'm not sure if it's because Clint left for Fort Dix last Tuesday, which is where he'll be until he leaves for Iraq in about two months, but focusing on this project really felt like pulling teeth. A few of the figures I drew and re-drew MANY times. I stayed up until 1AM on Monday to get all the figures drawn, couldn't sleep, and had to get up at 6 the next morning to get on for work. Needless to say, it's been a really stressful couple of days. all paid off, thankfully, and now I get to relax and have a great time at MDSW this weekend!

For more comments, larger photos, etc. check out my Flickr photostream ;o

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anonymous Plurals

World Wide Words, a fantastic e-zine about English, recently posted this classic poem illustrating all of the weird ways we pluralize words in English. I don't know why, but it just kind of tickled me.

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of mouse should never be meese,
You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But a bow if repeated is never called bine,
And the plural of vow is vows, never vine.

If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth, and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

If the singular’s this and the plural is these,
Should the plural of kiss ever be nicknamed keese?
Then one may be that and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren,
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim,

So the English, I think, you all will agree,
Is the queerest language you ever did see.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

URGENT: Cranky old man furious that zero and letter 'O' sometimes look similar

So I'm on-call for work this weekend, and I'm also working on a project for class that is due next week. This does not make for a very relaxing weekend, especially since on-calls for work are looking less and less like being on-call, and more and more like working more hours for less money. I just got a call from this dude, who was clearly a cranky old man, possibly on a respirator. (Or whatever that thing is where you can only say a few words before having to take a deep breath). He had just signed up for Product-X, and was furious because the login creds sent to him by "weren't working."

I took a look at his username and password, and noticed that the password, which was randomly generated by the site, had a numeral zero in it. This is bizarrely a huge source of confusion for a lot of our customers, who can't seem to grasp that sometimes, a zero looks like an 'O', and if the password doesn't work with one, maybe they should try the other. I realize it's slightly confusing; Product-X is a total piece of crap. If I had my way, I would eliminate Product-X, since it is essentially a black hole for money and the time of employees, such as myself, who would rather spend their efforts on something profitable. Unfortunately, it is a part of my job to deal with customer issues revolving around Product-X, of which there are many. To be fair, these issues are just as likely to stem from Product-X's shittiness as they are from user error.

HOWEVER--there is no reason to be a rude bastard to a customer service person before you have even heard what she has to say. This guy had obviously decided it was his right to be an asshole to whatever idiot picked up the phone, because there's no way the person on the other end of the line would be helpful. After I (very nicely) told him that I'd been able to log in with the credentials he had been sent, I pointed out that the password contained not an 'O,' but the numeral zero. He seemed to have trouble grasping this concept for a few seconds, but when he finally cottoned on, hooo boy, he was fucking furious.

My reaction when people get angry on the phone like that is to just stay really calm and pleasant. I think I might have said something like, "Well, I know that sometimes they can look similar, but if you just try logging in with a zero instead of an 'O,' and let me know if that works, that would be great..." It's true, I actually had to tell someone on the phone that zeroes and 'O's share similar aesthetic traits. Let's not go into how most of the time, a zero is more oblong, and an 'O' is more round. He was livid that the randomly generated password, assigned to him by a website, had tricked him, and he was going to make his overblown complaints heard in the most obnoxious way possible, to someone with no choice but to listen.

It's funny, I don't feel that I've ever had a truly horrendous encounter with someone in a customer service position, and most of the time I feel that they really are doing everything possible to help me out. I think this is because I've discovered the trick to getting good customer service is to treat the person trying to help you LIKE A FUCKING HUMAN BEING. Be friendly on the phone, be self-deprecating, provide as much information as possible, and you will be rewarded in kind. Be someone that the person will actually WANT to help, not just the asshat they're going to try and get off the phone as soon as possible, because practically no one does that. They call assuming that the customer service rep is going to try and screw them over, and by god they're not going to let that happen. Ask me how I know. CS reps get paid to help you solve the problems you are having with the service their company provided you, we're not here for you to vent all of your frustrations with modern technology and how some things can look the same as other things.


P.S. Also, if you can't tell the difference between 0 and O, and also can't grasp the concept of copying and pasting the password as it appears in the email into the password field, maybe it's time to give up on the whole internet thing

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rosti Pollo

The images in this post were brought to you by the writer's awesome boyfriend, who gave her a sweet new camera for Valentine's day! What a sweetheart of a guy, eh?

Last weekend, I got the urge, as I so often do on the weekends, to cook myself a nice meal on Sunday. I decided on the menu on Saturday, and then made the surprisingly proactive decision to do the necessary shopping that very evening. Grocery shopping on Saturday night at FoodTown actually turned out to be a pretty pleasant experience. There were far fewer people in the little market than usual, and there was actually still food on the shelves, not always a certainty on Sundays. (Especially on Superbowl Sundays, when you've forgotten that it is Superbowl Sunday and are looking for cilantro for a non-Superbowl related dish.) After picking up my ingredients, and chatting with the affable young checker, I was feeling pretty good about Sunday dinner: Paprika Roast Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries

I had made these sweet potato fries once before, so I knew they were tasty and relatively easy. I needed to know that I had one ace in the hole, because this was my first time roasting a chicken, and I wasn't sure what pitfalls awaited me. I had always heard that roasting a chicken was easy. Like really easy. Like falling off a log easy. But you've got to understand--I've been (mostly) cooking vegetarian for the past two years. Vegetarian cooking is just as complex and interesting as its omnivorous counterpart, but in a different way. For example, you don't have to worry about getting salmonella from a block of raw tofu, nor do you have to carve roasted eggplant once it comes out of the oven. Roasting a chicken was a whole other ball game, and I wanted to be prepared for an epic failure. Just to make this crystal clear--I have no problem eating a bowl full of sweet potato fries for dinner.

Per the entry on roasting a chicken, I made sure to wear an article of poultry-related clothing, and spent a few minutes meditating in the Lonely Chicken yoga pose beforehand. If you're going to do something, do it right, you know? Once my mind was cleared of all non-roasty thoughts, I removed my little free-range organic chicken from its plastic to rinse it in the sink. Holding it in my hands, I began to feel quite tenderly towards it. Here was an animal that had lived and died, and was now going to be sustenance for me. "Don't worry little chicken," I thought at it, "You've given me your life, now I'll do the rest." I gently patted it dry and placed it in the roasting pan.

I made sure to get the spice rub together beforehand, which consisted primarily of paprika, with some of the extra-hot chili powder I had procured from the Indian grocery, and some garlic powder and salt. This roast chicken prompted me to buy paprika for the first time ever, and I was really impressed with the brand of the spice carried by FoodTown.

Not only is it the Pride of Szegeo, an exquisite 100% sweet delicacy, but the tin is reversable! Don't care for paprika in a white tin? Turn it around and you have a cheery red one! Glorious.

The paprika, and by extension the spice rub was just as cheerily red, helped by the addition of the wonderfully spicy chili powder. I don't know about you, but chili powder from McCormack or whatever is never, ever hot enough. It mostly just tastes sort of burnt to me, and after picking up a honkin' bag of the Indian version from Patel's Grocery in Sunset Park, I will never buy the grocery store stuff again. Not only is this chili powder flavorful and HOT, it's waaaay cheaper and comes in greater quantity. As someone who likes everything spicy-hot (I put a little pinch of the stuff in my mocha this morning), I am totally sold on this stuff forever and ever. Rubbing the spice mixture on my little chicken, being sure to get it underneath the skin whenever possible, my hands started to burn--this made me smile...and then immediately run to the sink to rinse the spices from my skin. The chicken was ready for the next phase of its journey to my mouth: The oven.

I began preparing the potatoes as my apartment filled up with the delicious aroma of roasting fowl. I peeped in at the chicken once or twice, but mostly I just let it do its thing. As roasting time approached one hour, I took its temperature--not quite there yet, so another ten minutes and BAM! Right on the money. Removing the bird from the oven, redolent with the glorious smells of paprika, chicken, and triumph, was a wonderful moment.

I'm happy to report that I did not do a terrible job of carving. Sure, there was probably a little more meat left on the carcass than was ideal, but for a first timer, I was pretty happy with the whole business, overall. I had a dish full of chicken meat to eat for the rest of the week, and a roasting pan full of chickeneverythingelse to throw in a pot with some onions and rosemary to make stock! This was the first time I'd ever made stock of any kind, and again, I was really pleased with the result. It came out so flavorful and spicy--I'm really looking forward to using it in soups-to-come.

So, was the roast chicken a success? YES--the meat was tender, juicy, and flavorful from the spice rub. Cooking a whole chicken yields breast meat that is much less dry and boring than the individual breasts you can buy in the supermarket. Was cooking the roast chicken easy? YES--OMG, so easy, and relatively quick. Cooking time was about one hour, and preparing the chicken probably took 10-15 minutes, the same with carving. Was cooking a roast chicken economical? YES--even though I used a fancypants organic free-ranger, the chicken itself was around $10, providing me with chicken for an entire week, plus about six cups of stock. All of the other ingredients I mostly had in the pantry or will be able to use again (the paprika, for example.) What have we learned? That roasting a chicken is easy, cheap, and delicious; there is no reason to be intimidated by roasting a chicken, so go out and roast one of your very own today!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fashion Drawing 1: Works of the home

I'm swamped with actual work for class, so no time for a big long update. I did just upload a bunch of pictures of homework sketches and some pages from my journal, so click the lady to go check them out in my flickr stream. I'll try for a proper update later this week :\