Archive for June, 2018

ART – “Emmett”

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

Back in 2013 I took my first (and last) ceramics class. I felt like I needed more than one semester to be able to figure out a pottery wheel, but I also knew they were forcing the ceramics professor to retire. Out of the 10 or so students in the class, I was the only degree-seeking one (and thus the only one paying full tuition). This was apparently normal for the class—the Project 60 students constantly re-enrolled for the class to get free use of the studio and kilns. Project 60 is one of many programs in the state that allows those over the age of 60 to attend state colleges for nearly free (only pay lab fees) as long as they aren’t working for a degree (otherwise they have to pay). Since the school wasn’t making money off his class, they encouraged him to retire. I’m not thrilled about them forcing people out in that way, but I can understand their point. While there is no ceramics specific class anymore, there is still a sculpture class which includes ceramics.

But anyway, I didn’t get the hang of the pottery wheel so I mostly made statues or figurines. This here is my Emmett pupper, which sits on my husband’s desk at work. Emmett is our ancient Shiba Inu, who we adopted when he was full grown and feral, so we don’t know how old he actually is. We’re estimating 14-16 at this time.

ART – “Nott the Brave”

Watercolor – 10×7 inches – 2018

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

After an episode of Critical Role wherein Nott expressed she’s like a mother to Caleb, I envisioned her having the “LET ME SPEAK TO YOUR MANAGER” haircut.

ENG 350 – “The Water Knife”

Last Christmas, I think it was, I bought a copy of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife for my brother in law (it was on his wishlist) and didn’t bother to peek inside. I know now that if I would have, I would have ended up giving him a used copy.

I often wonder how I got into the business of energy management—it was completely by accident, I swear. I got into tech support for the company’s lighting and HVAC controls systems, learning much of not only the workings of the hardware and software, but also of the strategies. I’m interested and invested in all sorts of resource management as well. My career requires that I find ways for retail corporations to save money on utilities, but the way to do that is to use less. Less electricity. Less gas. Less water.

It seems like the main characters of this novel each also got into caring about water management by accident as well. A hardened criminal recruited from prison by a corporate mastermind. A “wet” (newbie) reporter trying to shout out the truth to people who don’t want to listen to it. A refugee just trying to get out of her shitty life.

Though the novel follows a fairly formulaic story telling process, the characters are still interesting and their motives are more than just a stereotype. Bacigalupi builds a world based around water scarcity that is based on real issues affecting the American southwest today (and has been for more than a century and a half, really) and takes it to a dramatic extreme with political and corporate espionage, shadow ops, and people who got in deeper than they wanted and now they’re all in danger.

Highly recommended, and would love to see a movie.

ENG 363 – “The Rules Do Not Apply”

I will admit, I did not read the whole of The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy. I have been busy at work, getting back into the swing of things after being off for a week recovering from surgery. I skimmed the book, found a few short chapters that struck my interest, then ended up going back to find out who people were and what was going on. I was mainly interested in how Levy spoke on her miscarriage.

Miscarriage and infertility affect the majority of women, but seemingly are never really discussed. By discussing it emotionally, viscerally, socially … Levy is making a big feminist move. It’s a thing that can only happen to people with uteruses but no one talks about it because it’s a “women’s problem”.

I have my own issues with infertility that I haven’t really discussed, even with those closest to me. I usually just give them a run down version – physically incapable, my meds prevent me, something like that. I’m 35 now with a 9 year old, and I’ve not “given up” on trying to have a kid, I’ve realized that I don’t actually want another kid. I didn’t really want a second but convinced myself that I did because my spouse did. I’d have to get off my meds in order to attempt again, and we tried. I can’t handle my mental issues without my medication. We discussed this  between ourselves and both agree that we’d rather I be a human being than a baby factory.

I’ve had friends deal with miscarriages, and it’s a difficult feeling to know you’ve done everything right and it still goes wrong. I think that’s part of what Levy means with the rules not applying – you follow all the rules to do what you want, and it still goes wrong. Most rules are just best guesses anyway. I’m reminded of a great quote from Star Trek: The Next Generation from Picard that stuck with me for a long time: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.

ART – “What’s Inside”

Left Middle – Watercolor – 7×10 inches – 2018

Center Middle – Watercolor – 7×10 inches – 2018

Right Middle – Watercolor – 7×10 inches – 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most recent of the art I haven’t uploaded lately. I plan to start putting stuff up daily. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are art rewards!

I’ve been doing a lot of art related to what’s (scientifically) under my skin lately. I intended this to be a 9 part series of medical diagrams that are all Brady-bunching around the central figure that stares at the viewer.

ART – “Fencing Practice”

Fencing Practice – Pastel on Paper – 16×20 – 2017

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

This is drawn from a photo of my son and the cub scout troop he is in at fencing practice. The boys in the picture are 8-10 years old, and that’s my boy Jonas in front.

ART – The Power of Friendship

The Power of Friendship – Pastel on Paper – 2016 – Two 18×24 in panels
Left: Amanda Jurack – Right: Arnela Bektas

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

This particular piece was inspired by the frienship fist bump between Arnela Bektas and I that was so powerful it caused others to comment on the shear awesomeness of it. We decided to work together and replicate it as Overwatch fanart with the two best bros of all time.

Arnela kept her side (Junkrat) and Roadhog is now hanging up in my son’s room.

ART – Veinity

Veinity – Pastel on Paper – 18×24 inches – 2017

So here’s some art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are art rewards!

I’ve been doing a lot of art related to what’s (scientifically) under my skin lately. This piece is from last fall and was in a juried art show at Cleveland State University.

ENG363/ENG350 – “THINKING ABOUT BLOGGING”

A quote from last week’s email from the professor for this course:

THINKING ABOUT BLOGGING

As we hit the midway point of this course, it may be valuable to you to blog about blogging: what is it like to write online about your writing, in this (somewhat) public way? Have you blogged before this course? Why or why not? How does knowing you are going to blog about these books affect your reading?

 

I said in a separate conversation with the professor that I’ve been blogging since before blog was a word. That may be a slight exaggeration. I have definitely been blogging since before blogging was a profession. The word blog, short for weblog, came around in the days of online diaries. The anonymous over-sharing that came around first on people’s private web pages, then on sites such as livejournal, myspace, friendster, xanga, tumblr, wordpress, facebook, twitter, and whatever else will come in the future. I’ve watched platforms come and go. I’ve watched online friends come and go. I’ve followed the lives of people I’ve never met, and people who have never met me followed my life.

Look at the side-bar. There are posts dating back to 2000. They were backdated on this wordpress (installed 2007) but have been part of my life, my site, since the 90s. I’m ancient on the internet. I’ve been making my views known to whoever will read them for 20 years or so. It was new then. I was a nerd for doing it then. It’s just part of life now. Not just for me, but for society in general.

The only manner that knowing I have to blog for this course (and for other course(s) taught by this same professor) is that how much of non-academic me do I want to let bleed into my writing?

  • I am used to writing academic papers.
  • I am used to writing blogs.
  • I am not used to blogging academically.
  • I am used to writing gigantic blustery papers that take ages to get the point.
  • I am used to writing short, witty responses to media I’ve consumed.
  • I am not used to writing short-form responses to things I have read for an academic audience. 

This has been a fantastic writing experience for me and I absolutely enjoy it. I don’t know how many people, if any, are really reading any of this (my site stats tell me it’s not many at all—my dealings with Valve’s foreign transaction fees continues to be my most read post). I can only hope that those who come here for my writing for classes stay and read my other writing (and try not to judge to harshly what 15-25 year old me wrote).

ENG 350 – “Future Home of the Living God”

In her novel Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich grasps and explains some rather important parts of the apocalypse: Humans known not the scale, and indeed prefer to not know (even with all their clamoring to just know), the scale of the end of life as we know it. The format of the novel as the main character’s journal gives the reader the fog an individual would have—unlike many others that offer flashbacks or other points of view that provide the reader with knowledge that the characters could not possibly know. When a global scale crisis arises, the people immediately become small-minded: looking out for themselves, their families, and little else. Those with power seize control of the military, communication, production, and reproduction. Their agenda is thinly veiled with euphemisms that imply comfort and protection, but masks the abuse of women. The abusers are themselves against what they do but have no choice themselves. No one is winning in this situation, even those that pretend to be in charge. It’s the end of the world, and no one wants to notice.

The focus of the book, however, is an individual’s journey in hiding from those in power, being captured, escaping, being captured again, and ultimately [spoiler alert] not getting away or what she wants. “Finally!” I said to my husband after I finished reading this, “A dystopic novel that doesn’t have a happy ending!” In most stories, there’s some morally gray “happy” ending that gets the main character(s) what they want but with some sort of sacrifice. Here we have a main character that loses everything, and remains that way at the end, with no hope in sight. This is what a reader needs in order to truly understand what the end of the world would be like. No one wins.

Several times within her journal, Cedar (the main character) writes about her future child’s growth, musing over the large numbers and small scale of each bit of growth. She admits that it all seems meaningless, but somehow important at the same time. Just like the end of the world—just like any other hyper-object—it’s too large or to small to comprehend, so she focuses on things that are her size. Her relationships with her moms, her dads, her sister, her grandmother, her “angel”, and the other pregnant women she meets along the way are what drives her. The crisis is endured by all, and so is not a concern that is discussed. It is there, all are aware of it, but every faction moves on their own for their own means. There’s no one group trying to save all of humanity, even those that they they are doing so are trying to create their own world.